Today we will be joined by Dave Dolphin of Practical Worship to discuss the issue of copyright licensing for churches. We will discuss the importance of CCLI licensing and the add-on licensing required to support legally live streaming popular Christian music. If you church live streams or posts podcasts with music covered by your CCLI license you should check out video to see what is covered by each CCLI license. We will review best practices for displaying your CCLI license on Facebook and YouTube during a live stream and tips for avoiding a copyright strike. This is a great episode to learn about Christian Music Copyright law and how it applies to live streaming video on social media. Dave will cover music syncing licensing along with a host of other topics noted below:
- Two forms of copyright (the essence of the song, master recording of a song)
- CCLI – covers tangible versions of the song (lyrics on a screen, charts printed, etc.), also includes a streaming/podcasting option and rehearsal option
- CCS – covers the performance of songs outside of religious service exemption of copyright law
- Fair Use – what it does (and does NOT cover) in terms of using copyrighted material in your own works (parodies vs derivatives)
- Mechanical licenses – what, how, where
- What services like CCLI, CCS, YouTube, Spotify cover for you… and what they don’t
Big thanks for Dave Dolphin from the Practical Worship who came on our show to review this topic. You can check out Dave’s YouTube channel here.
Church Copyright Licenses
When it comes to performing, recording, and live streaming Christian music, it’s important that your church obtains the appropriate legal copyright licenses. Some of the Christian songs your church performs may be available for free under public domain. Public domain music is available to the public for free and therefore is not subject to copyright. You can find a listing of all public domain music here (https://www.pdinfo.com/).
While thousands of songs are available for free under public domain, many popular Christian songs require an appropriate license. Yes, copyright law can be quite confusing, but the good news is that the Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI), offers simple and affordable solutions for churches. The first license your church should have in place is simply called the “CCLI Copyright License” which covers the following activities:
- Storing Lyrics
- Printing Songs
- Recording Services
- Making Custom Arrangements
- Projecting Lyrics
- Translating Songs
This basic CCLI copyright license also includes two “add-on” licenses that can extend your church’s legal usage of the music. The first is called a “Rehearsal License” which enables your team to share audio recordings via email and external worship planning software such as Planning Center, Onsong or ProPresenter. The second is a “Streaming License” which covers streaming and podcasting of your worship services. Keep in mind that these licenses only cover the usage of live-recorded audio. Therefore, you can only record music played by the musicians in your churches band. If your band plays with music tracks from other musicians, you could be flagged for a copyright violation. All parts of your “live-recording” must be performed live or with copyright free materials. If your band is using a backing track or official recording from another band, you could get a copyright strike from YouTube or Facebook. YouTube and Facebook have an algorithm that listens to your content and decided whether you have included any copywritten content. If the algorithms find copywritten content, YouTube will start to monetize your video on behalf of the copyright holder by displaying ads. On Facebook, your live stream could be completely muted.
If your church is interested in using a live recording to create a CD this is covered under the basic CCLI license. In any given year, you can create and sell a number of CDs that is no greater than 15% of the maximum number of people in your CCLI license category. For example, if you are in the 500-999 copyright license category, then your church could only sell 149 CDs. You can only sell each CD for a maximum price of just $4. This portion of the license is intended to provide shut-ins members of the church the ability to listen to the church services music. The $4 CD price was created to help churches cover the costs of producing CDs for this purpose. If your church would like to create a CD for a fundraiser, you will need to purchase mechanical licenses for each song that you include in the album. Most mechanical licenses can be purchased for roughly $.10 per song per CD sold.
As you can see from the chart above, the pricing structure is based on the size of your congregation. From left to right we have the basic copyright license, a streaming add-on, a rehearsal add-on and a special license for onetime events. Onetime events include concerts, conferences or special meetings outside normally scheduled worship. The CCLI copyright license includes access to over 300,000 songs from more than 3,000 publishers. For example, here are the top 5 worship songs being sung in churches throughout the United States as of December 2018 (Christian Copyright Licensing International, 2019).
- Reckless Love (Caleb Culver, Cory Asbury, Ran Jackson)
- What A Beautiful Name (Ben Fielding, Brooke Ligertwood)
- This Is Amazing Grace (Jeremy Riddle, Josh Farro, Phil Wickham)
- Great Are You Lord (Jason Ingram, David Leonard, Leslie Jordan)
- 10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord) (Jonas Myrin, Matt Redman)
Post Show Podcast
Learn even more as Paul Richards, Tess Protesto and Michael Luttermoser answer your questions about Christian copyright law with Dave Dolphin from Practical Worship in this post show podcast.
More on Live Streaming Systems for Churches
- Check out the "Helping Your Church Live Stream" book and download the first three chapters here.
- Have you ever wondered about copyright licensing for your christian music when you are live streaming? Learn more here.
- Here's how you can bring cameras directly into Easy Worship 7 and create a confidence monitor for your pastor - here
- It's time for the 2018 WFX Show in Orlando, Florida and we are taking you there live on Facebook and YouTube more here.
- What’s next for Church Streaming? Thoughts from an expert here.
- Learn about reducing video latency for image magnification using projectors and cameras in the church here.
- Check out how to overlay your song lyrics directly on to your camera video feeds in church here.
- Check out how this church uses Ableton Live, Blackmagic, ProPresentor and TouchOSC to create an amazing video production system here
- Watch this case study and testimonial for a live streaming church system in New York here.
- Learn tips from this easy church live streaming system here.
- Streaming Media Magazine review PTZOptics camera for use in churches here.
- Live streaming tips for churches and houses of worship here.
- Top live streaming services for Houses of Worship here.
- Take our free church streaming course here.
- Easy Church Streaming System with Wirecast case study here.
- Interviews from WFX 2016, the world’s largest church technology expo here.
- Free virtual sets for houses of worship and churches here.
- 15 Tips for Church Streaming here.
- Read more about simple church streaming system setup in East Orange, NJ here.