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Copyright Permissions

If you wish to reproduce any material, such as hymns or excerpts from pamphlets or books, published by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) or Skinner House Books, please use the following guidelines to expedite the permissions process. Allow us at least one week to respond to your request.

  1. Identify precisely which material you would like to reproduce:
    1. For a hymn or reading from Singing the Living Tradition provide the title and number, and in the case of a hymn, indicate whether you intend to use the words, music, or both (many hymns have more than one copyright holder).
    2. For an excerpt from a larger work, such as a pamphlet or book, please provide the title, author, and publication date (to identify which edition or printing), and indicate the page numbers you wish to use. If you can send a xerox copy of the pages or paragraphs in question that would be very helpful.
  2. Indicate how many copies you intend to make.
  3. Indicate for what purpose you would like to reproduce the material (for example, "I would like to use the hymn in my wedding service and distribute copies to the congregation").
  4. Indicate whether you intend to sell a product that includes our material.
    1. If so, what is the price of your product?
    2. Do you intend to realize a profit?

We can also send you, upon request, spreadsheets showing the copyright status of hymns and latest available contact information for copyright holders. We encourage you to use these spreadsheets to contact copyright holders directly.

Please send your request by mail, fax, or email to:

UUA Publications
25 Beacon St.
Boston, MA 02108
(fax) (617) 742-7025
(email) publications @ uua.org

Using Copyrighted Music in Worship Services

See a memo prepared by UUA counsel in response to questions from the UU Musicians' Network about how to legally use copyrighted music in worship services (PDF).

Please contact the UUA Publications Editorial Director (publications @ uua.org) for general questions about copyright or process. The Editorial Assistant (copyright @ uua.org) is the contact person for actual requests or questions about the copyright of particular hymns.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the process of obtaining permission to use music from Singing the Living Tradition and Singing the Journey in worship.

How can I tell if a hymn is copyrighted and by whom?
Check the Acknowledgments section at the back of Singing the Living Tradition or the credit line at the bottom of the music page in Singing the Journey. (If there is no credit or permission acknowledgment for the hymn you want in the SLT acknowledgments, the song is public domain. It is admittedly harder to tell for STJ. If there is a name listed but no copyright notice and you can't say with certainty that the song was written before 1923, you should proceed on the assumption that it is copyrighted.) Or you can just email the Editorial Assistant with your permission request; we'll let you know if the song is copyrighted and where to direct your request if we can't grant it.

Important note: Any one song may have several copyrights associated with it—for music, words, arrangement, and harmony. You only need permission for the part you are using. For instance, if you are projecting lyrics on an overhead screen without any music, you only need to clear copyright for the words.

Whom do I ask for permission?
You ask the UUA for UUA-copyrighted work and contact the copyright holder directly for anything copyrighted by someone else. There is no need to contact the UUA at all if no part of the song is copyrighted by the UUA and you don't need help identifying or locating the copyright holder.

How can I contact the copyright holder?
Often you can find the contact information yourself by searching on the Web. Or you can ask the Editorial Assistant. If you need to know about several pieces of music, we will email you a spreadsheet for the entire hymnbook, which lists all of the copyright holders by hymn number and the contact information that we have available. We will be happy to provide these spreadsheets on request so that congregations can have them available as a reference.

How do I request permission for UUA-copyrighted music?
Email the Editorial Assistant with the hymn title and number and indicate whether you intend to use the words, music, or both. Also indicate how many copies you intend to make and in what format (i.e. orders of service, copies in a binder, projection on a screen, etc.). Be sure to let us know whether it will be used in a worship service. The UUA is happy to issue blanket permission agreements on request for all worship uses of UUA-copyrighted music in which the music is not copied in a durable format (such as a congregational hymnbook used repeatedly). We encourage all congregations to ask for this blanket permission.

Can composers grant permission for the arrangements in the UUA hymnbooks?
Composers can only grant permission for their own arrangements. If there is no separate credit for the arrangement in the hymnbook, that means it's the composer's own arrangement and you do not need a separate permission. If the arrangement is credited to someone, you will need the arranger's permission as well as the original composer's.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Wednesday, November 21, 2012.

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