Bob Smietana, in an article for Christianity Today, addresses copyright and the pastor’s sermon. His article is entitled, “Who Owns the Pastor’s Sermon? Church or pastor? When sermons become books that make millions in royalties, the answer is important.” I’ve spoken with attorneys Curtis Yates and Frank Sommerville, as well as David Middlebrook and Matt Anthony on this issue. Bob’s article delves into the issues and represents the positions quite well. I’m now at EvFree Fullerton, where Sealy Yates and Chuck Swindoll developed the intellectual property issues represented in the following article. ~David Fletcher
In the late 1970s, Sealy Yates was sitting in his California law office when Chuck Swindoll paid him a visit. Swindoll was then a relatively unknown pastor at First Evangelical Free Church in nearby Fullerton. He had run into some legal trouble and wanted Yates’s advice. At issue: Who owned Swindoll’s sermons—Swindoll or First Evangelical?
A few years earlier, Swindoll had allowed a friend to launch a radio program called New Standard for Living, which broadcast his sermons. The program had done well, and now Swindoll wanted to take a leadership role in the radio ministry. But his friend balked, and their dispute seemed headed for court. Swindoll wanted to avoid a lawsuit, and Yates asked if he could mediate the dispute.
You can access the rest of the article online at Christianity Today (paywall).