A friend tweeted this:
Can we not copyright hymns? pic.twitter.com/zeIH0vY9T9— Katy 'Repentant Sinner' Jean (@katynotie) January 17, 2020
While I agree with her sentiment, just saying that I agree with a one-sentence & gif rant doesn’t share my full thoughts, so here they are.
From a secular perspective, it is at least polite for the writers of a piece of music to receive compensation for the use of the song, assuming they want it. Even if it’s just to encourage more music to be composed, the writers should be fairly rewarded for their work in some way. After all, we wouldn’t want a talented songwriter to not have the time to sit at their piano because they are busy doing other things to put bread on the table.
There's nothing wrong with an artist saying, “You have to pay me to use my song at your event”, though usually they don’t say it directly and use the help of a licensing body like Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI). Most parishes and venues that I’ve been to have some form of blanket license that they pay an annual fee for, allowing them to use the songs they want without having to get explicit permission for each one.
This is a decent solution, balancing the work to get permission with what is probably a lesser amount of funding going to the artists than if they were to license tracks individually. Obviously, it doesn’t prevent a “bad actor” like an overcontrolling record label from taking a larger cut than they should and paying the artist in literal peanuts, but that’s another complicated problem for a different article.
Assuming that a person performing a musical work is doing so within the permissions given by the licensing body, both the necessity of politeness and a Christian’s moral obligations could be deemed fulfilled. But there is another angle.
Apple’s Find My Friends (now combined with Find My iPhone as a single app called Find My), Snapchat’s location-sharing functionality, and other similar products all have one major issue: they are focused on sharing your exact location either all the time, or at least whenever you are using the app. This presents two problems in my mind.