Copyright compliance is a huge area of responsibility and concern for most church music leaders and others who lead ministries that use copyrighted materials. Often, obtaining the proper licenses for compliance can be a confusing, difficult and time-consuming process.
There are several options for obtaining music copyright and staying in compliance. Licensing is based on your church membership and options are based on how you plan to use the music.
Licensing also is needed for showing videos as well as for broadcasting your worship services online.
For broadcasting worship services on cable, your cable provider is responsible for obtaining the necessary copyright permissions to broadcast your service.
If you need any additional information, visit website for the U.S. Copyright Office.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I be concerned about copyright issues?
Federal Copyright Law prohibits the unauthorized copying of “original works of authorship” (including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic and certain other intellectual works), and penalties for copyright violations can be up to $150,000 per infringement. Ethically, owners of copyrighted material are entitled to the fruits of their labors, hence copyright protection for original works is fair and right.
Why does my church need a license?
Churches often face copyright infringement issues in two vital areas:
copying music without permission, and
showing videos/movies without authorization.
We only project songs. Do we need a license?
In most cases, yes. Entering and storing copyrighted song lyrics on a computer without permission of the copyright owner is a reproduction copying activity and is a violation of the Federal Copyright Law.
We don't charge for movie nights. Do we need a license?
The Federal Copyright Act of 1976 stipulates that pre-recorded videos are authorized for personal home use only. Special permission must be granted for any public performance and that includes using copyrighted video in church services and church activities like movie nights.
Overview Of Copyright Licensing For Churches
There is much confusion about about what kinds of licenses a church may need to comply with the copyright laws. Let's start with a few basics.
Download and read "Copyrights 101 by Church Copyright Solutions" and watch this video:
- Overview of copyright licensing for churches
- Copyright resources for churches: Church Copyright Solutions (CCS), Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI), Christian Video Licensing International (CVLI)
- Fact sheets, articles, frequently asked questions: CCS, CCLI, CVLI
- Copyright Compliance Report Card