For more information on copyright and licensing for worship and other uses, visit:
Discipleship Ministries — For resources and information on worship and music
UMCResource.org — Digital Ministry resources
General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) — video series on copyright
CCLI (Christian Copyright Licensing International) — https://us.ccli.com — for information on music copyright laws or to obtain a music license
OneLicense.net — www.onelicense.net — copyright reprints for congregational songs
CVLI (Christian Video Licensing International) — https://us.cvli.com — for information on video copyright laws or to obtain a video license
The copyright law is very clear on copying music. If you do not have express permission from the rightful owner of the song, you cannot make a copy. Many church music leaders who have made efforts to honor the law and have tried to obtain permission first from the copyright owner before making copies have found this to be a time-consuming challenge and in many cases, an administrative nightmare.
In order to copy music for church use, churches may purchase a license from CCLl (Christian Copyright Licensing, Inc.) Churches may also obtain permission for use of individual copyrighted pieces from producers.
A CCLI license allows you to do the following:
What the license does NOT cover:
For CCLI membership information, visit https://us.ccli.com
Purchased or rented DVDs are for home use only. They may not be shown in public settings without permission. This includes even educational settings such as small groups, Sunday school classes, youth meetings, etc. Many videos produced for church use have public performance rights. Showing a video without public performance rights or the copyright owner's permission is illegal.
Through an agreement with studios and producers, the CVLI (Christian Video Licensing International) Church Video License provides legal coverage for churches and for other ministry organizations to show DVDs and videocassettes of motion pictures.
The CVLI license covers the following:
This license covers manufactured DVD’s and videocassettes purchased, rented or borrowed. For full terms of the agreement, please see Terms and Conditions on the CVLI website.
This license does not cover materials that have been copied from another source or recorded from television. It also does not cover charging an admission fee for video showings or where specific titles have been advertised or publicized.
Information about CVLI can be found at https://us.cvli.com
As a church you are free to stream video and audio from any of your worship services without the need for a special license. However, to webcast any copyrighted music used in the service, you will require a music-streaming license.
Church exemptions do not cover the webcasting of copyrighted music, but this need not be a barrier to you making your worship services available over the internet.
Christian Copyright Solutions provides a WORSHIPcast license, visit www.ChristianCopyrightSolutions.com
CCLI also offers a streaming license. Learn more at https://us.ccli.com/streaming/
Tapes may be copied of a worship service and distributed if the tape does not include a performance of copyrighted music (unless a CCLl license has been purchased) or other copyrighted material such as a dramatic reading. You must turn off your taping machine while copyrighted music and/or dramatic readings are being performed if you do not have permission. If the service includes any copyrighted material, written permission must be obtained from the publisher before taping.
Video recordings of worship that include a performance of copyrighted music or other copyrighted material such as a dramatic reading come under the same restrictions as audio recording. All permission for the video recording of such performances must be obtained before video recording.
Curriculum and books are protected by copyright laws. No curriculum, whole, or in part, or pages from books should be copied without permission from the author or publisher. Some curriculum pieces give permission to copy "reproducible" sheets.
Most Bibles allow the copying and quoting of scripture. The King James version, published in 1611, is in the public domain and may be quoted extensively. However, the Revised Standard Version as well as all other new versions are not in the public domain and are, therefore, copyrighted. Permission to quote or copy Scripture from these translations is usually located in the front of the Bible. Following the guidelines that are given in these translations, you will find information on how to quote or display Scripture from any Bible version to use in a worship service. This includes worship bulletins, banners, church newsletters, Sunday school instructional material and overhead transparencies. When you are quoting from Bibles other than KJV, the quote must conform to the text - including appropriate spelling, punctuation, capitalization and special text formats - and the source must be indicated.
Copyrighted cartoons are given the same protections as written text. You must receive written permission to copy.