LGBTQ Resource Center to Benefit from Anti-Gay Church Sanctions for Illegal Portrayals of Hamilton – Baptist News Global

Did you hear the one on the church who ripped off Broadway’s most successful musical of the moment, rewrote parts of the script, and turned it into an altar evangelistic event? It turns out that the anti-gay church in McAllen, Texas will pay damages to the copyright holders of hamiltonwho in turn plan to donate the money to an LGBTQ resource center in church town.

Leaders of The Door Christian Fellowship are now likely to wish they hadn’t been in the room where it happened.

Let’s take this story from above.

hamilton, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, remains Broadway’s highest-grossing new show and is — hands down — the most talked about new show of the decade. The show has been hailed as transformative in the theater world, is now touring nationally, and has been made into an equally successful film version.

The Door Christian Fellowship describes itself as a “non-denominational, Spirit-filled, Bible-based family of believers.” The 32-year-old congregation is based in McAllen, which is located on the southernmost tip of Texas, just across the border from Reynosa, Mexico. McAllen and Harlingen are the two largest towns at the bottom of the state and are just a bit inland from South Padre Island.

The church changed the plot and some lyrics to refer to Jesus and to show that Alexander Hamilton was repentant.

On August 5 and 6, the church staged an unauthorized version of hamilton — regional theaters can’t even get permission to stage this show yet — and streamed the performance online. Additionally, the church changed the plot and some lyrics to refer to Jesus and to show that Alexander Hamilton was repentant. The church ended its performance with a sermon invite people “struggling” with alcohol, drugs or homosexual orientation to ask for forgiveness.

In legal terms, this amounts to not just one violation, but multiple violations: unauthorized performance, unauthorized modifications of copyrighted material, unauthorized online performance.

For example, in the song “Enough,” sung in Hamilton by his wife Eliza, she says, “I know who I married, as long as you come home at the end of the day, that would be enough. The church changed its sentence to: “My hope is in Jesus, if you could give him a chance today, that would be enough.”

On August 23, McAllen Church released a statement on its social media platforms and on its website homepage regarding Pastor Roman Gutierrez’s offense.

Romain Gutierrez

“On behalf of The Door Christian Fellowship McAllen Church, I would like to personally apologize to the creator of hamiltonLin-Manuel Miranda, the producers of hamiltonand the many others who contributed their intellectual property to hamiltonfor arranging an unauthorized production of hamilton which infringed the rights and copyrights of many.

“The Christian Gate Fellowship McAllen Church has not requested or received any license from the producers or creators of Hamilton to produce, stage, reproduce or modify any part of hamilton; nor did we seek prior permission to alter Lin-Manuel Miranda’s work by changing music, lyrics, removing songs and adding dialogue.

“We respect the copyrights of from Hamilton author and contributors. These copyrights are protected by federal law. We recognize that there are legal ways to obtain a license to stage properties that we have not pursued. And it is never allowed to modify an artistic work such as hamilton without legal permission. I acknowledge as pastor of the church that I have an obligation and responsibility to follow the law and educate our community on these protocols. Our ministry will use this time as a learning opportunity about protected artistic works and intellectual property.

“On behalf of The Door Christian Fellowship McAllen Church, we agree that we will never stage the performance again and will destroy all video or sound recordings and images of unauthorized performances or rehearsals, and ask all of our members to do the same. . Finally, we will pay damages for our actions.

In general, legal penalties for copyright infringement range from $200 to $150,000 per violation. Courts can also order infringers to pay the copyright owner’s legal fees.

How much this damage total was not disclosed. In general, legal penalties for copyright infringement range from $200 to $150,000 per violation. Courts can also order infringers to pay the copyright owner’s legal fees.

The Hamilton producers released their own statement:hamilton will donate all damages paid by The Door Christian Fellowship McAllen Church to the South Texas Equality Project. The South Texas Equality Project is a coalition of organizations working to advocate, celebrate, uplift, educate, and provide support for the LGBTQIA+ community in the Rio Grande Valley.

While this is a flagrant – and probably costly – violation of copyright law by a church, the problem of the church ignoring copyright is not new.

These violations can range from clever corporate logo ripoffs to spiritualized T-shirts (think “Jesus Christ” in Coca-Cola font) to illegal duplication of music, unauthorized performances, unauthorized rewrites of lyrics . (Has anyone ever sung “Praise the Lord” to “Edelweiss”?)

Churches have a religious exemption to make or broadcast music recordings in their live worship services. The key words here are “live” and “worship services.” The exemption does not extend to recordings or even live streaming, and the use must take place as part of a regular worship service. Even so, “dramatic-musical” works – such as hamilton — are expressly excluded from this exemption.

Churches also commonly violate copyright laws by making copies of music.

There are legal ways to circumvent some of the most common copyright issues for churches, including special third-party licensing. However, none of these solutions apply to theatrical works, which always require special licenses, if not available.

Brotherhood Mutual, one of the nation’s largest church insurers, offers this general advice: “While there are some limited exceptions to copyright protection, your ministry should always investigate the status of copyright. author of any literary, musical, dramatic or audio-visual works before using them. Mere crediting of the creator of copyrighted works used in a newsletter or program is no defense to charges of copyright infringement.

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