User:Cluth/Copyright law for church worship pastors
This is very much a work in progress. I'm attempting to synthesize everything I've learned about copyright law as it applies to churches. Most churches are not completely following copyright law, though they probably don't know that. I hope to lay out in easy-to-understand terms what churches need to do to ensure they are copyright compliant.
It is good to note that copyright is limited to within the country that it is established in. For example: In South Korea there is no such thing as copyright and those within that country have the free right to copy and do as they please. Nike, Starbucks, music artist, etc. would have no power within their copyrights.
They don't? 
Performance Uses (playing a song in public):
- Song (public) performance license: religious organizations are exempt for use in worship services
Printed Uses (music, sheet music, lead sheets, lyric printouts, projection)
- Print license (covers the lyrics and music): obtain from song owner
Recorded Uses (any audiovisual medium using copyrighted music):
- Song license (covers the lyrics and music): obtain from song's owner
- Two types:
- mechanical (for audio projects)
- synchronization (for video projects)
- Master use license (covers a recorded performance of a song): obtain from owner of recording
Clearinghouse for Christian music usage: http://musicservices.org/rates :(Sounds expensive!)
Ways of obtaining music: SongSelect Advance (through CCLI) allows 200 songs per year. http://www.onelicense.net/ Purchasing in a song book.
Sites such as pwarchive.com are technically committing piracy. Status of self-tabbing (by ear) still requires you to make a copy of the lyrics, so is still piracy.
There is an international convention, implemented in many countrys' copyright law, that allows any piece of music to be performed within a worship service without any copyright considerations or performance licensing needed.
However this only applies within the service: if music is used (either live or canned) before or after the service, or piped into the foyer, or played at the wedding reception in the hall (etc) then the VENUE needs an appropriate performance licence. These can be purchased from Performing Rights Organisations (PROs) like APRA (Australasian Performing Rights Association), BMI, ASCAP etc.
Commercial use (eg performing pieces at a public concert for which tickets are sold) requires yet another type of performance licence. This must be secured for each performance, but is generally also handled by the PROs.
Also, churches usually want their congregation join in the songs. If everyone knows the lyrics and tune, then it's just a big "performance". But typically they don't, so the church needs to show the words, and maybe the notation. Previously churches purchased hymn books, so the publishers sorted out copyright and the fee was included in the price. But when technology provided cheapish photocopying, overhead projectors and then data-projectors, churches started showing words and sometimes notation, without having a book for each person. Initially, they were breaking the law, so publishers complained and perhaps even sued.
Enter CCLI, and subsequently other church copyright organisations. For a modest annual fee, you don't need to deal with the administrative and financial nightmare of copyright compliance--for printed copies. Instead, they negotiate with copyright owners for the right to represent them.
The best marketed church-copyright organisation is, CCLI a privately owned company founded in the US in 1988, which focusses on the needs of the evangelical/pentecostal/praise-and-worship type churches. But there are others, eg Word of Life in Australisia, which focus on the needs of the more liturgical/traditional churches, and OneLicence which is an off-shoot of GIA Publiciations. Churches buy licences from these companies, which allow projection of words/notation, and photocopying music (provided a minimum number of copies have been purchased). Typically one of the conditions is a return saying which song-words etc were displayed, how often and/or how many people were there, and these returns are used to calculate payments to composers and publishers.
CCLI: Covers print license for participating publishers (does not cover popular/secular music or all Christian/worship music) Covers a limited mechanical license--that is, it allows video and audio recording of worship services and limited distribution (up to 15% of the upper end of a church's size category)
Note that a licence isn't a be-all, end-all right to use music for whatever you want. The intention is to simplify the most common uses of music in church congregations.
Without a blanket licence, a church would need to contact the song owner or publisher for each song it uses and request permission to copy the song. (About the only way around this is if each member of the worship team can listen to the song and play it back by ear without a paper in front of them--thus negating the need for a print/photocopy license.) The time required to look up the owner and his/her contact information, as well as the back-and-forth time required to get a signed agreement, is extremely prohibitive.
Clearinghouses such as Music Services can help simplify the administrative hassle, but there's still a cost factor. A projection license for one song is $20--and that's the rate for churches of up to 500 people. (More than that requires contacting them for a fee quote.) Add that to the photocopy license (at $1 per copy) for 10 musicians, and you're looking at $30 per song. Even a small worship set of 5 songs is $150--and that's just for one Sunday.
However, there are still some things that some churches do that aren't covered by most of the common licences, including CCLI. Basically, if your church does anything more than just singing the songs on Sunday, you'll need additional licenses: mechanical licenses if your services are recorded on tape or CD (though CCLI covers distribution of these, up to 115% of your church's license size class), synchronization licenses if you produce a video that contains a copyrighted song, and let's not even go into the horrific issues if your music makes its way onto the Internet--some companies like Word Music don't allow their music online--period."
Some other miscellaneous notes:
- You may not alter the lyrics of a song (ChangePoint i.e. Freedom by Darrell Evans) or the tune (melody or harmony)
- You may not make arrangements of the music (where no published version exists, of if the publication is out of print.
- Rehearsal tapes, CDs etc are not covered by CCLI and therefore require a mechanical license
Church Law Today -- have not reviewed this site, but it was recommended to me
Earlier Email to Gary
Sorry about the line breaks...this is copied out of Gmail's web interface. Will fix later.
I've done a little bit of research into copyright law myself. While the overall idea (people who create works own those works and can determine how they are used) is simple, individual applications of the laws can get overwhelming and confusing. (Parody? Fair use? Performance rights? Mechanical reproduction rights?) You're right--U.S. copyright law gives the author a copyright at the exact moment the creation is put into tangible form (snapping a picture, typing a story, or dictating a diary entry). No further action is needed, although one can submit his or her creation to the U.S. Copyright Office for recorded proof to aid in litigation related to copyright infringement.
Anyway, using the copyrighted pictures (without permission) *is* technically illegal, even for home use. Not True! Look at the Home Audio Recording Act. So is burning an Alison Krauss track and giving it to a friend or even copying a song off of a Three Dog Night LP onto a cassette tape, hiss and all (generational loss isn't a legal defense of copying). The reality is, however, that copyright owners generally won't waste time pursuing such minor infringements (although the RIAA has been going after MP3 file traders lately). And since copyright infringement is a civil, not criminal (in most cases), offense, copyright holders can only sue for lost income or commercial value. In the case of a random picture of the Sydney Opera House from a private Web site, the commercial value is nil, so there's really nothing to worry about. And as long as only those of us involved in the choral festival know about the DVD, there's little chance that the RIAA or Vaughn Williams' estate will come after us for anything, especially since we haven't caused them any lost revenue. In any case, it's probably a workable (if not entirely good) defense to say that we were already doing something illegal, so we might as well add another couple of minor illegalities on top of it. :-) I like it.
(A side note: you can select how you'd like to license your uploaded pics in Flickr. The default is to reserve all rights. You can also apply various forms of the Creative Commons licenses, which can give people limited or even unlimited use of your pictures.)
Where I've been doing most of my research is in how copyright law applies to musical performances, specifically in church settings.
Now here's where it starts to get confusing. There are basically two different types of rights held for each song: the creative right, which is owned by the songwriter(s), and the performance right, which is owned by the musician(s) making the recording. Sometimes this is one and the same, and sometimes two different parties are involved. Take Chris Tomlin's latest CD, "Arriving"--"Holy Is The Lord" was both written and performed by Tomlin, but "Indescribable" was performed by Tomlin and written by Laura Story.
It starts to get even more complicated. Just like a home video is licensed for exhibition in private homes only, CDs can only be played for personal use. Establishments that play music, from roller rinks to radio stations, need to pay for a "performance license" in order to remain in compliance with copyright law. The same goes for music performed by a live band. (This is where I start to get fuzzy.) Performing copyrighted music in public amounts to a violation of the creative right. Playing prerecorded music amounts to a violation of both the creative AND the performance right. BMI and ASCAP license venues to legally play and perform these works in public. (My fuzziness is on the distinction between who holds the rights for this and gets the royalties--the songwriter, the performer, or both?)
Oh, and there's no such thing as "educational" or "non-profit" use being exempt. Fair use is generally held to be using a small clip for demonstration purposes, such as Roger Ebert showing a 30-second preview of the new Wallace and Gromit movie to illustrate its animation and plotline.
So, churches need to pay a license to perform copyrighted worship songs, right? Not necessarily. Robert Nieves, marketing administrator for BMI, told me in an email that "[t]he Copyright Law makes provisions for the exemption of churches for 'public performances of music in the course of religious services at a place of worship.'"
Notice he said the law makes provisions for "public performances." That's great if you've memorized the music or are singing out of a legally-obtained hymnal or songbook. But most modern churches that use guitar chord charts do lots of printing and copying of songs. They also display the lyrics on a projected screen, either by PowerPoint, a worship-specific piece of software like EasyWorship, or on overhead projector transparencies. Technically, these are both infringements on the songwriter's creative right and are not covered by copyright law.
Hence, CCLI. CCLI is an organization that issues licenses to churches to copy the sheet music and display or hand out the lyrics for the performed songs (as long as it is in their "Authorized Catalog," meaning they have an agreement with the publisher or administrator). Nothing more, nothing less. They don't cover the actual *performance* of the song, since that's legally covered under copyright law. (I had to look up this distinction because some of the staff at our church claimed that the CCLI license was an unnecessary expense. The CCLI Web site pointedly states that each violation of each song can net up to a $30,000 fine. Ouch.) Each time a covered piece of music is copied, the songwriter receives a royalty. (Actually, to minimize the administrative overhead, CCLI utilizes a six-month reporting period out of a 2 1/2 year license period, during which they sample all of the songs copied and displayed. They then consider this sample representative of all of the church's activity and distribute the royalties accordingly.)
But wait, there's more. What if the church records or broadcasts its services? There are yet more rights held by the songwriter: mechanical and synchronization rights. BMI's website (http://www.bmi.com/licensing/broadcaster/public.asp and the four linked subpages at the bottom) says that "[m]echanical rights...give you the right to record and distribute a musical work." They aren't covered by BMI, so the rights need to be obtained from the music publisher.
Synchronization rights are similar. They cover setting the music to video, which is technically what a TV or streaming video broadcast is. Same thing: permission needs to be obtained from the music publisher.
That's a lot of work for a church to go through on a weekly basis. And that's where our beloved CCLI comes in. CCLI offers another license that covers these mechanical and synchronization rights (I think it's actually included in the standard CCLI license set, but legally, it's a different license). So, all's safe and sound there, too. Except for one small caveat: the CCLI license only covers distributions (per performance, I'd assume) of up to 115% of the maximum number in your license category.
Where this is going with us here in Anchorage is that, while we don't distribute 400 DVDs of each week, we could conceivably hit that number with the combined DVD and CD orders as well as potential future back orders of DVDs and CDs. Therefore, we cut the music out of our recorded media. (That, and we're still working on getting the equipment and setup for a production-quality mix for the video feed, which is relatively low on the priority list of things to do right now.) Oh, and audio/video posted on a Web site is not covered, since it can be accessed outside of your church.
It's worth checking out the FAQ entries at the CCLI website (http://www.ccli.com/Visitors/FAQ.cfm, http://www.ccli.com/Visitors/ChurchCopyright.cfm, and http://www.ccli.com/Members/Faqs.cfm), as well as the License Holder's Manual (http://www.ccli.com/Members/LicenseManual.cfm). They list some prohibited uses of the license. Important ones I've come across are: -the CD or DVD recordings cannot contain any "sound tracks" (i.e. songs played from a CD or iPod before or after the service) -all printed music must be obtained from the official published sources (such as the Hillsong songbooks), unless one doesn't exist, at which point you can create your own arrangement (CCLI offers a paid service called SongSelect Advanced that lets you download lead sheets) -you may only charge up to $4 for CDs and up to $12 for DVDs -you cannot give sheet music to another church -you cannot create rehearsal tapes -you must include the song's copyright information on each copy, including on projected slides (yuck; I think that's distracting) -you cannot alter the words of a song
Of course, contacting the music publisher or the copyright administrator (What's the difference between the two?--I'm still working on understanding the different job descriptions in the industry.) and getting their permission will allow you to negate the above restrictions.
One other unresolved issue that I still have to pursue: The BMI site also lists a separate "reproduction right." I'm not sure how this differs from the mechanical right.
Well, there we go. That about exhausts my knowledge of copyright. I apologize if you already knew this--I'm actually writing this more for my own benefit (organizing my thoughts and perhaps to post the relevant sections to a discussion board) than for you, but I thought you might be interested in it. Writing this also allowed me to clarify some of the things I wasn't sure about--I did some research in the process of writing this. In fact, after writing this, I feel like I have a much better grasp on copyright law as it applies to churches! So thanks for being a sounding board!
Email Conversation with Robert Nieves at BMI
Note that this is in order from newest to oldest. Will clean up when time permits.
Please note that unless it relates to “Public Performances “ and as explained the Copyright Law makes provisions for the exemption of churches for “public performances of music in the course of religious services at a place of worship." Therefore, a BMI performance agreement would not be required. You will need to directly get permission from the music publisher or obtain permission from CCLI.
That said let me try to answer your questions in the order you submitted them:
A, B,C & D : YES....BMI licenses only the public performances, anything beyond that requires permission from the music publisher (which a CCLI license should cover).
1) ** yes
2) ** This in not BMI's area.... you must refer to CCLI.
3) ** Not BMI'S area....CCLI.
Your next set of questions:
1) This refers to “mechanical rights” to reproduce music onto cassettes, CDs, etc. requires permission from the music publisher(s) for “mechanical rights”. For your convenience, publisher information is available on our web site under the “Repertoire Search” icon. If you need further assistance in locating complete publisher information, please contact our Research Department at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call the BMI repertoire information hotline at 1-800-800-9313 where you can request information on as many as 3 song titles per call. Or you can obtain permission from CCLI.
2) Again this refers to “mechanical rights” and requires permission from the music publisher(s). Or you can obtain permission from CCLI.
3) For this request, you will need permission from the music publisher(s). For your convenience, publisher information is available on our web site under the “Repertoire Search” icon. If you need further assistance in locating complete publisher information, please contact our Research Department at email@example.com. You can also call the BMI repertoire information hotline at 1-800-800-9313 where you can request information on as many as 3 song titles per call.
4) The Copyright Law makes provisions for the exemption of churches for “public performances of music in the course of religious services at a place of worship." Therefore, a BMI performance agreement would not be required.
5) The Copyright Law makes provisions for the exemption of churches for “public performances of music in the course of religious services at a place of worship." Therefore, a BMI performance agreement would not be required.
6) In order to use music in conjunction with visual images (i.e. film, video, slide presentations, etc.) requires permission from the music publisher(s) for “synchronization rights”. Or you can obtain permission from CCLI.
7) This refers to “mechanical rights” and requires permission from the music publisher(s). Or you can obtain permission from CCLI.
8) Again this also refers to “mechanical rights” and requires permission from the music publisher(s). Or you can obtain permission from CCLI.
9) In order to use music in conjunction with visual images (i.e. film, video, slide presentations, etc.) requires permission from the music publisher(s) for “synchronization rights”. So you would need the music publisher(s) permission, Or you can obtain permission from CCLI.
Please note that all matters not related to “PUBLIC PERFORMANCES” should be directed to the CCLI.
I trust all the above has been helpful. Thank you for your interest in BMI.
Robert F Nieves
10 Music Square East
Nashville, TN 37203
From: Chris Luth Sent: Thursday, October 13, 2005 1:00 AM To: Genlic Subject: Re: Churches
Thanks; that helped immensely. Copyright law in regards to church services has confused me for a long time--yours may be the simplest explanation I've gotten to date!
Our church does subscribe to CCLI. However, the laws behind it all have still confused me (and some have argued that we don't even need the CCLI license). Thanks for helping.
Can you just clarify that my understanding is correct here?:
A. Performing the songs for church services without paying any royalties is acceptable under copyright law B. Copying the sheet music/chord charts/guitar tabs and projecting the lyrics is a violation of copyright law--this is where the CCLI license comes in and makes things legal C. Recording and distributing (i.e. on CD or DVD) music from the worship services is illegal--again, the CCLI license allows this D. While A above is legal, it's rather hard to do A without B, making a CCLI license almost essential for any church that's going beyond using a hymnal or songbooks. Is this true?
I also still have a couple of questions:
1. How about playing popular Christian music on CDs (or iPods or computers, etc.) over the PA system before and after services? Is this allowed as royalty-free under the same provision you mentioned above?
2. The person who produces our CDs, DVDs, and streaming media clips currently edits out the music. He says that CCLI limits the number of recording distributions to 400 per performance, which is why we edit out the music. Is this true (I can't find a reference to it on the CCLI Web site, though I will email them), and if so, how would we legally extend that so we can leave the music on our recorded media?
3. If we pay the CCLI license, does it matter how we obtain the sheet music/chord charts/guitar tabs for a piece of music? Must we purchase the authorized songbook, or can we tab it out ourselves (by ear), download tabs posted online, or copy other churches' archives?
I realize there are four separate rights ascribed to copyright holders (both performers and songwriters) as listed on your site: public performance, reproduction, mechanical and synchronization rights. I'm still not 100% clear about how they relate to what we do.
I think it might be easier if I list the current things we do or are needing to do and have you let me know what licenses/arrangements we need to make to be completely legal.
1. Record and distribute original recordings (i.e. by our worship
pastors) of published songs (i.e. "Indescribable" by Chris Tomlin) for worship team rehearsal. Will be listened to by worship team members at home, in their cars, etc. ..............
2. Copy and distribute CD recordings (i.e. "Indescribable" by Chris Tomlin, from his CD "Arriving") of published/prerecorded songs for worship team rehearsal. Will be listened to by worship team members at home, in their cars, etc. The tracks will be obtained through legal means, such as CD purchases, iTunes Music Store downloads, etc. ............
3. Copy and distribute chord charts of the songs for the worship team members ......
4. Play prerecorded performances over the PA system before, during and after services ....
5. Perform copyrighted songs during services .......
6. Show song lyrics on projector; lyrics laid over live video display of service ....
7. Record copyrighted songs to CD, DVD, and computer media formats ....
8. Distribute CDs and DVDs at or slightly above cost with our performances intact ....
9. Distribute streamed media at no cost with our performances intact .....** SYNCH / PUBLISHER OR CCLI
Thanks for your assistance,
On 10/12/05, Genlic <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> The Copyright Law makes provisions for the exemption of churches for
> "public performances of music in the course of religious services at a
> place of worship." Therefore, a BMI performance agreement would not
> be required.
> If the services are recorded or videotaped, however, a license for
> mechanical or synchronization rights may be needed. These rights may
> be obtained directly from the music publisher (see our web site under
> the "Repertoire" icon for publisher information).
> There is also an organization known as the CCLI (Christian Copyright
> Licensing International). They provide permission to record services,
> copy songs, etc. They have a very informative website located at
> www.ccli.com/Index.cfm. For licensing information, click on "North
> America" and then on "United States". Under "Visitors", click on
> "about the Licenses".
> http://www.cvli.org/cvli/index.cfm Christian Video Licensing
> I trust the above has been helpful. Thank you for your interest in BMI.
> Robert F Nieves
> Marketing Administrator
> 10 Music Square East
> Nashville, TN 37203
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Chris Luth
> Sent: Sunday, October 09, 2005 9:21 AM
> To: Genlic
> Subject: Churches
> I see your list of businesses you have FAQs and brochures on regarding
> performance licensing (http://www.bmi.com/licensing/
> business/whatis.asp). How about churches? What licenses would a church
> require in order to perform songs written by, say, Chris Tomlin,
> Darlene Zschech, or Jeremy Camp? How about to play prelude CDs of
> songs you might find on K-LOVE (a popular national Christian radio
> station network)? How does the CCLI license fit into this?
Performing Music at Church Not During a Service