Copyright 101: Copyright Myth #7
Myth 7. It’s from our own denominational hymnal.
Counting down the top ten myths, false beliefs, and misperceptions about church music copyright, none of which are true.
Explanation: Here’s the myth: “We’re a United Methodist congregation and we purchased copies of The United Methodist Hymnal at considerable expense for all of our pews and the choir. That allows us to copy lyrics for the bulletin or project the lyrics on a screen during worship for all of the songs in the hymnal,” or some variation. The United Methodist Publishing House (UMPH) is the publisher of all of our official hymnals and Abingdon Press, a division of UMPH, is the publisher of our supplemental songbooks, like The Faith We Sing and Worship and Song, with other collections (Upper Room Worship Book, Global Praise) published by other United Methodist general agencies like Discipleship Ministries and GBGM.
The truth is that the “Copyright © 1989 The United Methodist Publishing House. All rights reserved” clause on the copyright page on pg. iv of the hymnal is a copyright on the material within the hymnal that is actually owned by UMPH and on the contents, format, etc., of the entire hymnal. There are hundreds of hymns in the hymnal whose words and/or music are owned and copyrighted by other entities, and these are noted at the bottom of the first page of the hymn and collected in the Acknowledgments section at the back of the hymnal (pp. 906-913). These hymns are neither owned nor controlled by UMPH and UMPH can not give any church permission to reproduce them.
In all but the earliest printings of the hymnal, the expanded copyright clause on page iv provides permission to United Methodist congregations to reproduce for worship and educational purposes any single item from the hymnal for one-time use, as in a bulletin, special program, or lesson resource, provided that item bears a UMPH or Abingdon Press copyright notice. The congregation must include the copyright notice and acknowledge The United Methodist Hymnal as the source. Other than this limited permission, all additional requests must be addressed to the Permissions Office of Abingdon Press at UMPH in Nashville. Requests for hymns copyrighted or owned by other publishers and entities should be addressed to those publishers and entities.