=Copyright Education

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Parnasa (livelihood) is a basic concept in Judaism. Our faith has long recognized that, while one can and should perform religious services such as writing liturgically based music, performing cantorial or songleading services, etc., for the community willingly, people do need to earn a living. Composers, songwriters and performers depend on income from legitimate sales of printed music and recordings.
"One who derives benefit and the other suffers loss [is liable]." (Bava Kamma 20a)
Another honored concept in Judaism is attribution. It is considered a great honor to report the words of another.
"R. Eleazar further said in the name of R. Hanina: Whoever reports a saying in the name of its originator brings deliverance to the world..." (Talmud Megilah 15a)

It is so important for Jewish organizations and institutions to show due respect to the creators and performers of Jewish music. This respect comes in the form of only performing authorized duplication of printed music, recordings, and other works; and through properly attributing all works to their creators.

The creators of contemporary Jewish music want their music to be used, and all encourage the use of their compositions. It is not the intent of this effort to impose undue hardship or restrictions that would hinder the use of original works for worship, camps, schools, and other settings. Rather, we hope to find a way to balance the organizational need for fiscal responsibility using limited financial resources with appropriate respect for the artists' need for parnasa, and for being properly known as the creator of their works.

One proposal being floated is the idea of a central Jewish Music clearinghouse. Such an institution could for provide for fair and equitable means to deal with issues of copyright. For example, the Church Music Publishers Association has what is known as a "Church Copyright License" which, for a reasonable fee, allows for legal copying of printed music in bulletins, programs, songsheets, etc. It also allows recording of services. Over 1200 composers' works are represented. It does not provide for legal photocopying of choral music, but this issue is being tackled and aggressive pricing to enable churches to purchase sufficient copies of music for all choir members is being worked out.
Such a project is a daunting undertaking. At this time, our efforts will be simply focused on education.

Our campaign begins with an open dialog on this issue. We encourage anyone interested in participating in this dialog to contact us. In the near future, we will be creating an interactive discussion page. In the interim, we welcome your comments for posting to the Hanashir discussion list If you are not a subscriber to Hanashir, you can join here.

Please watch this page for further developments in this campaign.

An excellent article on Copyright and Jewish Law can be found at:
http://www.jlaw.com/Articles/copyright1.html
It is particularly insightful in its explanation of the Jewish views on copyright both from a "protectionist" viewpoint, and also from the issue of protection of "original works."

And further information of how this issue is being dealt with in the Christian religious community can be found at a site sponsored by the Church Music Publishers Association:
http://www.cmpamusic.org/copylink.html

A list of useful links of Intellectual Property and Copyright:

Rights Organizations

(CAP = Composers, Artists/Performers, and Publishers of Music)
  • ASCAP American Society of Composers, Arts, and Publishers
  • BMI A second U.S. CAP Rights Organization (headquartered in Nashville)
  • SOCAN (Canadian CAP Rights Organization
  • SESAC European Artists Rights Organization
  • ACUM Israeli CAP Rights Organization (English Page)
  • Harry Fox Agency U.S. Mechanical and Digital Licensing Organization
  • Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that offers flexible copyright licenses for creative works.
Copyright Information
Copyright for Music Librarians, Music Library Association
Search Performing Rights Societies, Music Publishers' Association
SongFile Community Licensing for Mechanical Reproductions