The show was "homegrown," which is great. I admire the effort it takes to work from scratch if you can't find a pre-packaged dramatic production that fits your needs. However, there were a couple items in this homegrown commodity that left me questioning the legality of their use.
I'm not saying this church did not procure the rights legally, because I don't know if they did or not. I don't attend there, and I was just a visiting audience member. If they did procure the rights, it would have been nice to see something in the program acknowledging the source. At the very least, the author and publisher deserve a shout-out for their hard work. Such a shout out prevents rules-driven people like me from stewing over whether the church did what was right in terms of copyright law.
But if they didn't procure the rights and just went ahead and used this author's text, boy does that put a bee in my bonnet. A whole swarm of them.
The process of getting a children's book written, picked up by a publisher, illustrated, edited, typeset, released, distributed, and into the hands of readers is a process that takes countless hours--years, literally--of many people's lives. Most writers scrape for every penny they make at their passion, so every time somebody misuses or misappropriates their work, it takes food from the mouths of their children or keeps new shoes off those kids' feet. For a church to use content without permission, even for a production that was free to the public, is unconscionable.
My husband put it like this: would the church steal the lighting equipment they used for the show? No, they rent it and pay whatever it costs. (And there was some really fabulous lighting for the show, I have to say.) How are lights different than content? I would argue they are less important! All the lights in the world can't convey the message the text does.
The last point I'm going to make about this is this: if we as Christians think we can skirt the proper handling of intellectual property, that creates another reason for non-believers to point at us and call us hypocrites. "See? They're no different than any of us. Just a bunch of lying thieves, hiding behind good intentions." Even if souls are impacted by the message a less-than-legal production conveys, for me, the ends don't justify the means.