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A lawsuit between and several music publishing companies has been settled out of court. Churches can continue to use the digital files provided by as before.

The publishing companies sued for violating copyright laws by providing digital worship music with both words and notes. The website is run by Rev.  Donald Steenhoek, pastor of Rogers Heights Christian Reformed Church, Wyoming, Mich.

When The Banner first reported this story in May 2006, approximately 150 Christian Reformed churches were subscribing to Steenhoek’s website. His digital files allow churches to display musical notation along with the words of songs via their projection systems.

Neither party can discuss details of the settlement, but Steenhoek said his online service will continue. Rush Hicks, lawyer for the publishing companies, agreed that for subscriber churches, nothing has changed.

Steenhoek said a notice will be added to his website stating that subscribers must fax a copy of their CCLI license. CCLI (Christian Copyright Licensing, Inc.) of Portland, Oregon, makes licenses available to churches to use more than 150,000 songs without contacting each publisher for the right to use a song.  

Under dispute was whether those licenses extend to a third party, such as Steenhoek. Hicks said this was a precedent-setting case because it is only in the past few years that technology has enabled someone to take licensed songs, put them in a digital format, and sell them to churches.

Hicks said that Steenhoek will now secure individual licenses from each music publisher, allowing him to create the digital files.

Steenhoek said, “It is our hope to provide the service to churches that we provided in the past.  We do not envision any price increase for the service and hope to expand the number of songs, both in the public domain and copyrighted.”

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