Copyright law exists to protect and ensure those behind creative works are appropriately compensated when the work is reproduced or performed. For churches, regular Sunday worship typically includes a host of creative works which are reproduced and performed. The Bible text, sermon, hymns, liturgy, and choral works often pop to mind, but in this digital age, many forget that copyright law also protects projected lyrics, images, and video, streaming worship (live), and podcasting worship (archived), among other things. The complexities and variations are many and finding clear answers to copyright questions can be challenging.
An article from Christian Copyright Solutions details 6 Myths About Copyright That Puts Your Church At Risk. The key to following copyright law is designating someone in your church to become educated on copyright and obtain proper licensing of the creative works you use. Unfortunately, this isn’t a “one time and done” activity. It requires reviewing and reporting individual music selections which are included in worship each week. Christian Copyright Solutions offers excellent, free copyright education resources for churches including an eight-page toolkit, 57-page eBook, webinar videos and fact sheets. They, along with other companies, also offer performance and streaming licensing for churches.
WELSTech doesn’t endorse one licensing solution over another, but additional insight into licensing options is available on WELSTech 329, Are You Legal. Kristine Laufer, Rights and Permissions Coordinator for Northwestern Publishing House, talks with Martin and Sallie about copyright issues including various use of Christian Worship and Christian Worship Supplement.
- One License
- Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI)
- The Educator’s Guide to Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons