Copyright compliance is a major area of responsibility and concern for most church music and creative arts leaders who use copyrighted materials. Obtaining the proper licenses for compliance can often be a confusing, difficult and time-consuming process.

The Detroit Conference Commission on Communications has partnered with CopyrightSolver by Christian Copyright Solutions (CCS), to help you become copyright compliant.

U.S Copyright law (section 110[3]) states that churches (along with any religious organization) do not have to get permission to perform or play music (or a non-dramatic literary work) during a religious service at a place of worship or other religious assembly.  Beyond that, you must secure licensing for:
  • Performing music or playing recordings outside of a worship service
    • Examples include:
      • Concerts
      • Youth Events
      • Children’s Ministry
      • Social Functions
      • Retreats
      • Conferences & Seminars
      • Music before & after service
      • Wedding Receptions
      • Movie Nights
      • Camps
      • Whenever music is performed or recordings are played outside of a service
  • Printing lyrics for use inside or outside of a worship service
  • Streaming worship services or other events
  • Using master recordings for anything streamed online
  • Syncing a song to a video
  • Recording music on CDs (including practice recordings)
  • Distributing CDs or videos
  • Any use of copyrighted works (music, artwork, poetry, etc.)
By law, the copyright owner has the right to control their works and be paid royalties and has the exclusive rights for:
  • Reproduction
  • Making Derivative Works
  • Distribution
  • Performance
  • Public Display
  • Digital Recording Performance

Each time you want to use any copyrighted work for any purpose, you MUST contact the copyright owner for permission.

Click here for information about recent church copyright lawsuits.

You may either contact the copyright owner individually (copyright and contact information is usually included on most copyrighted works), or you can secure a blanket license for certain types and groups of copyrights.

What is a church blanket license?

A blanket license allows you to use a catalog of specific copyrighted works for one annual fee. Several blanket licenses have been created to meet the needs of churches and ministries. The best known of these are:

  • CCLI Church Copyright License
  • CCLI Church Streaming and Podcast License
  • CCLI Rehearsal Copy License
  • CopyrightSolver’s PERFORMmusic
  • CopyrightSolver’s Ticketed Event License
  • CopyrightSolver’s WORSHIPcast
  • CopyrightSolver’s WORSHIPcast Plus License
  • CVLI Church Video License
  • LicenseSing
  • OneLicense
These licenses provide a mosaic of copyright coverage, with very little overlap between their coverages. The first step in determining which of these licenses to purchase is understanding what they cover and what they do not cover.

CCLI Church Copyright License

Covers 200,000 Christian SongsThe CCLI church copyright license was the first church blanket license and it is the best known. Uses or permissions revolve around making copies of music and lyrics for congregational singing with some limited CD and DVD recording rights.

What you CAN do:

  • Print songs, hymns and lyrics in bulletins for congregational singing
  • Create custom songbooks for congregational singing
  • Create visual format for projection of lyrics for congregational singing
  • Arrange, print and copy your own arrangements for songs used for congregational singing where no published version is available
  • Record your worship services (provided you only record live music and do not reproduce accompaniment tracks) and sell for up to $4 each for cassette tapes and CDs and $12 each for videotapes and DVDs (number of copies are limited to 15% of the church’s congregation size)
What you CANNOT do:
  • Photocopy or duplicate octavos, cantatas, musicals, handbell music, keyboard arrangements, vocal scores, orchestrations or other instrumental works
  • Reproduce or make practice or rehearsal tracks
  • Perform or play songs outside of worship services
  • Make translations of songs
  • Post any songs to the internet
  • Record song performances, unless recorded live in your services
  • Use songs that are not in the CCLI song catalog
  • Use any copyrighted material besides songs

CCLI Church Streaming and Podcast License

Covers 200,000 Christian Songs. The CCLI church streaming and podcast license is an add-on to the CCLI church copyright license. This license allows churches to stream and podcast their performances of songs in the CCLI catalog.
What you CAN do:
  • Stream your performances of catalog songs in worship services
  • Podcast your performances of catalog songs in worship services
What you CANNOT do:
  • Stream or podcast your performances other than worship services
  • Stream or podcast copyrighted master recordings
  • Stream or podcast songs not in catalog, including all secular songs
  • Charge for access to streams or podcasts
  • Use any copyrighted material besides songs

CCLI Rehearsal Copy License

Covers recorded tracks from more than 100 Christian record labels

What you CAN do:
  • Allows legal copying commercial audio recordings, and/or audio files via email flash drives or worship planning websites
  • For rehearsal purposes only
  • Not for permanent copies or personal collections
  • Recordings must be from labels listed in CCLI program
What you CANNOT do:
  • Does not include secular recordings
  • Does not allow recording the songs (making you’re own recordings of songs)
  • Make photocopies of sheet music or songbooks

CopyrightSolver’s PERFORMmusic

Covers 16 million Christian and secular songs PEFORMmusic allows churches and ministries to legally perform music and play recorded music in their facilities outside of religious services.
What you CAN do:
  • Perform music and play recordings of music for:
    • Concerts (no admission charge).
    • Youth Events
    • Children’s Ministry
    • Social Functions
    • Retreats
    • Conferences & Seminars
    • Music before & after service
    • ANYTIME music is performed or recordings are played outside of a religious service
What you CANNOT do:
  • Charge admission fees (an add-on license for ticked events is available)
  • Retransmit performances on radio, TV or internet

CopyrightSolver’s Ticketed Event License

Covers 16 Million Christian and Secular SongsThis is an add-on to the PERFORMmusic license. Once you have the PERFORMmusic license, you simply report your ticketed events and pay the required royalty fees.

CopyrightSolver’s WORSHIPcast

Covers 16 million Christian and Secular SongsWORSHIPcast allows churches and ministries stream their performances of more 16,000,000 Christian and secular songs
What you CAN do:
  • Webcast live performances of music
  • Webcast archived performances of music
  • Charge for access to internet streaming of services
What you CANNOT do:
  • Make performances available for download
  • Webcast third party recordings
  • Webcast copyrighted works other than songs

CopyrightSolver’s WORSHIPcast Plus License

Covers 1,200 master recordings. This is an add-on to the WORSHIPcast license that allows churches to stream LifeWay Worship tracks.
What you CAN do:
Stream LifeWayWorship.com versions of master recordings for:
  • Webcasting of worship services and programs (live and on-demand)
  • Streaming of ministry related videos (baptisms, testimonials, mission trips)
  • Streaming of background music on church/ministry site
What you CANNOT do:
  • Downloads of any kind
  • Creation of any physical media of any kind
  • Any use which requires a payment to the licensee from other internet users in order to hear the stream

CVLI Church Video License

Covers 400 Video Producers. The CVLI license allows churches to show selected films & videos for specific uses. The catalog includes Christian and secular films and videos.

What you CAN do:
  • Show videos to illustrate sermon points
  • Show videos in Sunday schools and youth groups
  • Show videos for teaching and training in classes
  • Host special event movie nights
  • Show whole videos or select portions
What you CANNOT do:
  • Reproduce or edit videos
  • Sync video to another medium
  • Charge admission or advertise titles
  • Retransmit on TV or internet

LicensSing

Covers 100,000 Christian Songs. The LicenSing allows reproduction of songs for congregational singing.  LicenSing has a liturgical focus.
What you CAN do:
  • Use catalog songs, hymns, lyrics for congregational singing
What you CANNOT do:
  • Record your performances
  • Reproduce or copy sound recordings
  • Make translations of songs
  • Use songs that are not in the LicenSing song catalog
  • Use any copyrighted material besides songs

OneLicense

Covers Christian songs of 62 publishersOneLicense allows churches to make copies of songs for congregational singing.
OneLicense also has a liturgical focus.
What you CAN do:
  • Use catalog songs, hymns, lyrics for congregational singing
  • Record worship services for the home-bound
  • Podcast your performance & create practice tracks
What you CANNOT do:
  • Reproduce or copy sound recordings
  • Make translations of songs
  • Use songs that are not in the OneLicense song catalog
  • Use any copyrighted material besides songs
This information is only intended to be an overview.
This document provides information and not legal advice. For more information and resources, including fact sheets, videos and idea kits, visit our Detroit Conference page at: http://www.copyrightsolver.com/associations/detroitumc.
If you’d like to ask specific copyright questions, please contact CopyrightSolver directly at 1-877-947-9687.