Your parish may decide to purchase a set of hymnals. In purchasing hymnals the parish has also purchased the copyright for those hymns and settings used by the assembly.
The advantages of this option is that it is "once-only": you do not have to worry about keeping records of hymns, mass settings and their frequency of use; you do not have to pay ongoing copyright fees; you are copyright-compliant for the life of the hymnals.
The disadvantages are also obvious: you are locked into a set repertoire unless you decides to purchase a number of different sets of hymnals; the initial financial outlay may be huge.
Purchase Copyright Licence
A number of the large music publishers have an accord with a copyright licence agency.
Please note: not all publishers and/or musicians allow third-party agents to act on their behalf.
Below is a list of the three major copyright licence agents that are used by New Zealand parishes.
Check in with your diocesan church music copyright educator. It is important that you know what options are available before you decide which licence or licences best suit(s) your parish or school.
The most popular option is a licence that allows parishes to reproduce for the assembly the words and melody line of hymns and mass settings for use with data projectors, OHPs or service sheets. With this licence you are required to keep a record of the hymns/mass settings you use and the frequency with which they are sung. These records are submitted to the copyright licence agent which will, on your behalf, pay the appropriate copyright fees due to the publisher(s).
Another option is a licence that allows parishes to reproduce for your musicians and choirs/singers the musical accompaniment of hymns and mass settings. Like the option above, you are required to keep records for the number of photocopies and frequency of use. These records are likewise submitted to the copyright licence agent which will, on your behalf, pay the appropriate copyright fees due to the publisher(s). Please note: not all publishers and/or musicians will allow this.
Public Domain Music
Another option is to use hymns/music that are in the public domain. These are copyright-free.
Copyright law is complex.
To become copyright-compliant requires that you take the time to understand the different options mentioned above. Each of the copyright licence agents have different licence options and different requirements. Use your diocesan Church Music Educator to ensure you have the most up to date information available.
Not all publishers/musicians have an accord with a copyright licence agent.