Dealing with copyright regulations is not exactly the most fun part of Church Media, but it is an important one. In the same way that purchasing a song from iTunes ensures that an artist is properly compensated for their work, proper CCLI etiquette guarantees a paycheck for worship artists.
Ignoring the required fees, reporting, and other guidelines required by Christian Copyright Licensing International is just as illegal as downloading bootleg mp3s. As followers of Christ, we must have integrity in these matters—even when it’s inconvenient.
Here are seven things that you’ll need to know:
1. It’s Illegal To Display Copyrighted Lyrics Without A License
If you’re projecting lyrics for songs outside of hymns, this is a big one. This is not a rule that CCLI created to make money off of your church; it is an industry standard that applies to all music unless declared as public domain. It’s fair. For a comparison, imagine creating an original idea and having organizations all over the world displaying it in their gatherings as their own without giving you any credit. You can purchase a Church Copyright License based on your church size here.
2. You Must Display Copyright Info For Each Song
For each copyrighted song that you project lyrics for in your service, it’s required that you display proper information. This can be done several ways. A popular method is to display it directly on the song slides (on the first slide, last slide, or throughout the whole song). This is the easiest method because all church presentation software have this capability built in. However there are two other options that I’d recommend over this distracting method. You can create a single slide with all of your song info to show at the end of your service or include this information in your bulletin. Copyright info for each song should look like this:
“Hallelujah,” words and music by John Doe
© 2000 Good Music Co.
Used By Permission. CCLI License #______________
3. Audio and Video of Your Service Can Be Sold Legally
Through your CCLI license, you are permitted to record and sell both audio and video of your services (including your worship sets). However, if you’re going to include copyrighted music on the CD or DVD, there are a few limitations. You cannot sell more copies per year than your reported church size and no more than 15% of the church size of each service recording without additional payment. You may charge up to $4.00 per CD or $15.00 per DVD to cover your costs. With these limitations, it may be easier to not include the music segment of your service in your recordings if you’re hoping to sell copies as a fundraiser.
4. Additional Coverage Is Needed For Online Use
Many churches have already begun to stream or archive their pastor’s sermons on their website or podcast, but haven’t been sure about the legal implications of including their music. Whether webcasting audio or video of your worship, an additional license is needed to keep you clear of copyright infringement. You can find more information on this license here.
5. Additional Coverage Is Needed To Show DVD Clips
Including short video clips from popular movies is a great way to illustrate a point in a sermon. However, special permission to use these clips is required due to the regulations on DVD and Blu-Ray discs. Fortunately, these rights can be easily obtained through a Church Video License. You can purchase a video license based on your church size here.
6. Reporting Is Necessary
Occasionally, CCLI will contact your church to gather information on how you’re using the copyrighted music that you’ve gained access to through them. This is normal and should be expected about once every 2.5 years. They usually require reporting on which songs you’ve used for about a six month period. To be prepared for these reports, I recommend keeping a log of the songs you’ve projected. (This is also a valuable asset to the worship team to ensure they’re including enough variety in their song selections.)
7. CCLI Is On Your Side
There are a lot of opinions about CCLI and, quite frankly, most of them are bad. But, if you think about it, it’s the copyright rules that are frustrating—not CCLI. They did not create all of the hoops you must jump through and aren’t out to take all of your church’s money. In fact, they have worked hard to provide churches with a simple solution so that you are cleared to do ministry and not have to worry about the legal side of things.
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Kendall Conner serves as the Creative Pastor at Piedmont Chapel in Greensboro, NC. He is a graphic designer, video editor, and all-around media geek, but above all enjoys seeing lives changed. Together with his beautiful wife, Holly, they strive to use media to spread the message of Christ and equip others for ministry.