Texas Church Illegally Executes “Hamilton” With Anti-LGBTQ Messages — OnStage Blog


So there is no doubt that the Friday performance and everything that happened up to that point was copyright infringement. Not only were RGV Productions and The Door Christian Fellowship Ministries of McAllen not granted the rights to perform the show in its entirety, they were also not given permission to edit the text. (UPDATE: They were given permission, under strict guidelines, to perform the show on Saturday).

But the big question is, did they have to?

Departments have a very limited exemption from copyright law. During services, churches are generally permitted to play or perform any song or reading. Churches are generally allowed to play and perform copyrighted songs during worship services and the law generally only applies to live in-person performances.

Because there was a sermon at the end of the performance, it’s possible “The Door McAllen” thought they were free and open to do what they did.

They were wrong. This exemption does not cover secular dramatic works such as operas or plays.

It also doesn’t matter if they didn’t charge money for the tickets either.

I don’t see a live pit either. If they used backing tracks, that’s another issue as well. Backing tracks are often protected by copyright: use without permission is also against the law.

The fact that they live-streamed and posted the production on YouTube (which they have since taken down) is also another issue. A license is often required to play, perform or otherwise use any copyrighted material in a recording or broadcast. This will not only put them in hot water with the producers of “Hamilton,” but also with Disney, since they paid $75 million for it.

Interestingly enough, for their advertisement for their illegal production, RGV Productions used the same music taken from the Disney+ trailer for “Hamilton”.

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