Sunday, September 9, 2007

Christians and Lawyers and Integrity Music

I need LEGAL permission to use an Integrity's Hosannah! song in my screenplay. It's "In Him We Live" by Randy Speir. Here's what I'm doing and why I'm doing it.

The song itself has a certain place in American church culture. Now, we all know that "Amazing Grace" is considered "the anthem of the Church." But this song -- while not an anthem (nor even a true "hymn") -- is an undeniably iconic song in this generation's current hymnology. While it's true that the words themselves are from the Bible, and therefore the words are in public domain (and therfore I could conceivably whip up my own silly melody to go with the words), the real heart of the matter is that the SONG has a place in our culture that I can't possibly duplicate. And part of the overarching goal of this movie script is that it attempts to "tap into" the more deeply seated elements of current day Christian culture--including our current music. It's sort of like certain films need to tap into the rock music of a specific era. A few of the more famous examples from film history would be

--"The Big Chill" which was an 80's movie that tapped into the iconic music from the 1960's
--"American Grafitti" a 1970's film that tapped into the iconic music from the 1950's and 1960's
--"Moulin Rouge" was a recent film (from the 00's) that took place over 100 years ago, but tapped into the music of the 1960's and 1970's.

So I truly feel that I absolutely MUST have this song. It's got all of the following:

--it's got the absolute and unabashedly correct theology that I so desperately need for this very precise moment of the film
--it's written in a pentatonic scale (which means it's written in a simplified musical scale which children can sing)
--it's very upbeat
--and it's culturally iconic to the America Christian sub-culture

NO OTHER SONG captures ALL of the above! There is NO OTHER SONG that I can possibly use!

Meanwhile, I spent the last six hours reasearching the whole thing on the internet. And here's what I found out:

There are several different licenses one needs to get when seeking to duplicate/use a song, especially in a film. These licenses are generally obtained directly from the publisher.

A Master Use License
A Mechanical Use License
A Synchronization License
A Print License

I originally (and naively) thought if I could just contact Mr. Speir directly, he'd be like "Sure! No problem! I'm honored!" But when I found out today (after searching the US Copyright Office web site, as well as the Christian Copyright License International web site) that Integrity Music (not Mr. Speir) holds the actual copyright, I knew I had to contact THEM and not him. Turns out that Integrity Music has one whole section of their web site devoted specifically to requests for these licenses. And a sub-section for church groups who seek the non-profit usage of their music. I suspect it's probably an entire department of ten or more people who hande this stuff all day long! And I also suspect there's probably more than one in-house lawyer there who specializes in copyright law who is also on staff full time in that department.

So I composed the following e-mail and will be sending it off to them in the next 48 hours (after I get my PDF's set up).

Wish me luck! (or good fortune--or Godspeed --whatever)

Here's the e-mail:


I am an amateur screenwriter who just completed my first feature-length movie script. The script is Christian in nature and in theme. And as far as the "severity" of its storyline and overall content, the script is currently "up to standard" for the requirements of a contest called "The Kairos Prize," which is the most prestigious Christian screenwriting contest to date in the entire film industry.

That contest maintains very high standards of integrity and decency -- in other words, all script submissions must have ZERO instances of profanity, sexuality, nudity, severe violence, cruelty, and innuendo. Also, the purpose of the contest is to promote the writing and producing of scripts which in some way glorify God. The top three winners every year are given the opportunity to pitch their scripts to the big name studios.

Two different scenes in my script depict a small choir of children singing a song during a church service. The song I have chosen is UTTERLY pertinent to a key point of the story's overarching plot line on many levels (thematic, symbolic, cultural, and theological). In other words: without this one song, the entire script is close to useless. The song in question is:

In Him We Live
CCLI Song No. 17274
Author: Randy Speir

Copyright: 1986 Integrity's Hosanna! Music

Catalog: Integrity's Hosanna! Music
Admin: Integrity Music, Inc.

I would like to enter my script in this year's Kairos Prize Contest. However, I will obviously need the permission of Integrity Music and also (I believe) Mr. Speir.

I'm not completely certain, but I think I need some or all of the following before I can move forward with my script:

1) A "Print License" for the electronic and hard copy versions of the script I've written, as well as for permission to make additional electronic and hard copies of the script to distribute amongst any potential producers, cast and crew for any potential film deal that might result
2) A "Mechanical License" for permission to have a team of child actors sing/record the song on camera during the film shoot and/or in a recording studio during post-production of any film deal that might result
3) A "Synchronization License" (not sure about this one because I was under the impression that a Sync License is only needed when a filmmaker wants to use the original recording of the song by the original artist, not an alternate recording made specifically for the film)
4) A "Master Use License" (again -- not sure, for the same reasons as #3 above).
5) Other (?)

In this e-mail, I have attached a PDF copy of the entire script, and also a smaller PDF of just the "page before, page of, and page after" of the two (2) sections in the script where the song is used.

Please let me know if Integrity Music or Mr. Speir will need anything further in their consideration of granting me the necessary permissions.

Thank you so much.

--(My name)

sandwich board room at yahoo dot com