Church Copyright Blanket Licenses

Copyright laws can be confusing, can’t they?

I recently received this excellent summary of what a church can and cannot do under certain copyright blanket licenses so am passing it along, with links to the licensing agencies mentioned.

We all have our opinions, including me, but our Lord expects His children to live in compliance to the laws surrounding us.

When it comes to copyright compliance, a church can budget for licenses. I have yet to find a church that budgets for fines.






WorshipCast License FROM CCA
One-Stop Church Internet Song Performance License –

Allows churches to:
• Webcast worship service and events featuring performances of more than 16
million songs from ASCAP, BMI and SESAC repertoires.
• Feature song play lists with interactive selection of streamed songs for listening
• Songs must be performed by your own musicians and singers, or artists/groups,
who grant permission to use their recordings of the songs.

What You Can NOT Do:
• Download MP3 or digital audio song files (or provide for download)
• Webcast third party sound recordings or accompaniment tracks.
• Use any copyrights other than songs on your website; e.g., videos, literary works,
visual images, etc.

CCLI – Christian Copyright License International
Coverage from CCLI ( –

Allows church to reproduce songs in the CCLI Song program or congregational singing in the following ways:
• Print songs, hymns, lyrics in bulletins for congregational singing;
• create custom songbooks for congregational singing;
• create visual format for projection of lyrics for use in 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.

What You Can NOT Do:
• Photocopy or duplicate octavos, cantatas, musicals, handbell music, keyboard
arrangements, vocal scores, orchestrations or other instrumental works;
• Reproduce or make practice or rehearsal trax;
• Reproduce or copy sound recordings;
• Make translations of songs;
• Reproduce songs in videos or audio recordings, unless recorded live in your
worship service;
• Use songs that are not in the CCLI Song Catalog program (for example, some
secular songs like “White Christmas” by Irving Berlin.
• Use any copyrighted material besides songs.

CVLI – Christian Video License International
Coverage from CVLI

Allows the following:
• Pastors can use selected movies to illustrate sermon points;
• Sunday schools and Youth Groups can view the latest videos;
• Educational classes can show videos for teaching and training. If movies have
multiple producers, permission is needed from all copyright holders.

What You Can NOT Do:
• Reproduce or copy a video or film in whole or in part
• Synchronize any portion of a video or film to another medium
• Charge admission to view the movies
• Show videos or films on TV broadcast or on the Internet

Performance License Willow Creek Association Bundle – Licenses with ASCAP, BMI
and SESAC allow churches to perform songs in the following activities:
• Playing music before or after a church service;
• Non-exempt Concerts (admission charge or payment to artists/producers)
• Music on hold for phone system;
• Music through a speaker system in the church office;
• Music for an aerobics/exercise class;
• Seminars and conferences
• Music at church functions such as a youth event, special dinner, concert, BBQ, etc.


4 Replies to “Church Copyright Blanket Licenses”

  1. Phil

    A non-exempt concert is one for which
    admission is charged or payments are made to artists/producers. These for-profit events come under a different set of regulations and are not generally covered by the licenses mentioned here.

  2. Kathryn Gunyon

    My husband and I have a prison ministry – New Beginnings. We have been showing VCR’s and DVD’s for over 6 years to inmates. Now we are told we can no longer do this. How can we obtain a license/copyright to make this possible. These men really look forward to Friday nights. Please HELP!

  3. Phil

    Kathryn, three things come to mind.

    1) CVLI does not cover every movie or producer so you will want to be knowledgeable as to which movies / videos you can show and which you cannot. The licenses mentioned here are priced according to organization size. If your ministry is just you and your husband you’ll definitely qualify for the lowest fee setting.

    2) Check to see if your local church has the CVLI license listed above. (there’s a link to CVLI for your convenience). If so, you may be able to come under your church’s license if you are under the auspices of your local congregation. It may require an official action on the part of your church board with mention of the motion and vote in the official minutes to recognize you as an official small group or outreach arm of your local fellowship to come within the terms of the CVLI license.

    3) Check with the prison authorities / attorney to see if showing videos for inmates is considered a public performance. If what you’ve been doing the last few years is considered private, in that the public is outside the walls of the prison(s), you may be fine doing things as you have been.

    One thing is for sure. Churches and para-church organizations can budget for licenses and fees. I have yet to come across one that budgets for fines.

    Hope this helps –
    Representatives from the licencing companies can certainly help more.

    Phil —

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