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JGM
JGM, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 11559
Experience:  30 years as a practising solicitor.
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We are a church and we have asked some of the members (volunteers)

Customer Question

We are a church and we have asked some of the members (volunteers) to write some worship hymns for us, once written will the church own the songs? if not how can the church obtain ownership?
Thanks ***** ***@******.***
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  JGM replied 2 years ago.
The church will not own the hymns once written as the members of the church aren't employees. What you have to do is ask the writers to assign the copyright in the hymns to the church. A formal Deed of Assignment would be required in respect of each writer. That would then vest the copyright in the church although the writer can still be identified as the writer when crediting in a book for instance. I hope this helps.
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you, ***** ***** been very helpful, 1 more question, we are in the UK so if they were paid to write the songs (work for hire) would the church then own the songs?

Yvonne

Expert:  JGM replied 2 years ago.
No, because they would not be employed by the church as employees. They would be treated as independent contractors and the copyright would still have to be formally assigned.
The law says that employers own the copyright in works created by employees in the course of their employment but just paying someone does not in itself create an employer/employee relationship.
See online section 11(2) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.