Plagiarism seems to be becoming more and more acceptable in this world, and while the world does it, it’s been a huge problem for the Church as well. While freely sharing biblical exposition, the gospel, Bible-teaching, and things of this nature are to be expected for Christians, doing so in a non-deceptive manner is a must.
That wasn’t the case for Southern Baptist Convention president, Ed Litton, who was busted for plagiarizing sermons and deceiving his congregation for nearly a decade—and it apparently wasn’t the case for rap-artist-turned-Christian-preacher-gospel-singer, Kanye West, either.
West, who we’ve been skeptical of since his announcement that he’d converted to Christianity, has been embroiled in scandal after scandal since his supposed conversion. From hanging out with prosperity charlatans like Joel Osteen to divorcing his wife to failing to submit himself to a solid church while taking the spotlight off of himself, West remains driven by fame and fortune.
His latest scandal: plagiarizing a sermon clip from a Texas pastor and using it as part of his for-profit song without permission or license.
Again, we believe that sermons should be freely available for all to hear, but we believe that proper credit should go to those who did the work.—and especially if you’re a billionaire artist using someone else’s work for profit, even if it is the gospel.
Billboard reports that “A tiny snippet of language that’s commonly used in sermons might seem to be fair game, but federal courts have long held that even the smallest samples of sound recordings must be licensed. In a seminal 2005 ruling, a federal appeals court put it bluntly: ‘Get a license, or do not sample.'”
“In Kanye’s case, the alleged illegal sample can be heard at the start of ‘Come to Life,’ in which a voice says ‘My soul cries out, ‘Hallelujah’ And I thank God for saving me I, I thank God,'” the report continued. “Another sample from the same recording is used later in the song: ‘Hallelujah (Thank You, Jesus) Hallelujah (Yes) Hallelujah…’ and the clip appears to play softly in the background at other moments.”
Billboard reports that the song, Come to Life, is approximately 5 minutes and 10 seconds long, while the clip Kanye used is roughly 70 seconds long, accounting for nearly a quarter of the song’s length.