Almost every day I receive an email from someone asking how they can get permission to use and/print my music. Let me answer the most common questions.
By contract, all requests to use or print my music are administered by my publisher, OCP (www.ocp.org) and the licensing organization (www.licensingonline.org) with whom they’re affiliated. To print a piece of my music, or even just the words, in a one-time music bulletin or program, you can go to the LicenSing website and obtain a license in a matter of minutes. To print my music in a re-usable parish worship aid or in a hymnal, you can contact OCP at 1-800-548-8749 and ask to speak to the Licensing Department. The helpful people there will walk you through the process.
Essentially the same holds true for using the recordings of my music on a website, or in a compilation CD, or as background for a video. Call OCP, tell them what you want, and they will tell you how to proceed.
You really don’t need permission to create an arrangement of a song of mine if your intent is only to use it at your parish. A license is, however, required if you ever want to sell and/or publish either a printed or recorded version of that arrangement.
Please understand how important it is to me personally that you honor this arrangement. All of us composers make our living and support our families by means of the royalties we receive. When you’re a parish music director and under the crunch of time to print a program for the coming weekend, it’s easy to skip over the legal part and assume permission to copy the music. I’ve been there myself. But don’t let the the situation keep you from obtaining the required license afterwards. It truly is a matter of fairness and justice.
You can learn more about copyright law by visiting the website of the US Copyright Office.