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27 August 2015

Church leader's tool kit: Copyright

Church leader's tool kit: Copyright

Churches are increasingly embracing multimedia and new technologies such as song projection in worship and the use of music and film in their outreach and social programmes. However, understanding and complying with copyright legislation can be a significant challenge.

Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI) exists to support the Church in this area, providing convenient and affordable copyright licences that enable churches to move forward with their ministry, confident that they’re acting legally. Below I’ve highlighted the key areas where copyright should be considered, and which licences you may need.

Projecting or reproducing songs for worship
Many churches are moving away from hymn books and instead projecting song words onto a screen or creating their own service sheets… 

The Church Copyright Licence (CCL), held by over 200,000 churches worldwide, covers you to copy out or project the lyrics to over 175,000 authorised hymns and worship songs.  The CCL also includes the right to make audio/video recordings of worship services as a keepsake or for those unable to attend.  

The supplementary Music Reproduction Licence (MRL) permits you to photocopy or scan music books/publications or share digital sheet music files with musicians and singers.

Playing and performing music
Music played or performed live within an act of worship (e.g. your usual Sunday service) does not currently require the cover of a performance licence.  However, playing music for entertainment or ambience in church activities such as youth clubs, coffee mornings, socials and outreach events does require a licence.  As agent for PRS for Music and PPL, CCLI offers two licences that cover music played on church premises…

The PRS for Music Church Licence permits you to hold live concerts / recitals, and covers music on film soundtracks.

When playing commercial music recordings (such as CDs or MP3s), both the PRS for Music Church Licence and the PPL Church Licence are required as each licence protects different rights within a recorded work.

Showing films
The use of a film or video to entertain or to communicate the gospel is a great way to bring teaching to life or engage those outside of the church in a culturally relevant way.

CCLI’s Church Video Licence (CVL) covers you to show films and film scenes from most of the top producers and studios. You'll also require the PRS for Music Church Licence for music included on the soundtrack if you’re showing films outside of acts of worship (e.g. a regular worship services). 

Permission is required to photocopy from most commercial publications including study guides, magazines, journals and children’s activity books…  

The CLA Church Licence permits you to photocopy and scan most non-music publications.

Websites and social media
When making content available online, churches can often unwittingly infringe copyright, and some have been fined by copyright owners for using photos or music without permission. CCLI are here to offer guidance and advice so you can be confident when publishing content on the internet.  

How to ensure you’re correctly licensed
If you’re concerned that your church isn’t covered for all its activities, CCLI’s customer services team are here to help. Call us on 01323 436100 or email info@ccli.co.uk.

Alternatively, a quick and easy way of assessing which licences your church requires would be to complete CCLI’s Church Copyright Health Check. You can do this online at uk.ccli.com/healthcheck or with one of our team over the phone.
The CCLI website at uk.ccli.com/churches has lots more information on our licences, what they cover and when they’re required.

Thanks for taking copyright seriously. I hope this information has been helpful.

Rich Burrough
UK Communications, CCLI. 

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