Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Hey Fletch … We live-stream our worship service and also have some recorded worship songs on our website. Someone asked me if that is legal. Thoughts?

DRF—That is a huge can of worms. Actually it is two cans worth. The first issue is live-streaming your worship and the second is recorded songs on your website. 

You will want to get this one right, otherwise the penalties can be stiff. There is an organization that you need to check out: Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI). Here is why you need CCLI. A 2017 ChurchLeaders article, stated that:

“Yesh Music (Richard Cupolo and John Emanuele) filed a complaint on October 28, 2011, claiming that First Baptist Church Smyrna (TN) used two of Yesh’s compositions in videos streamed from their website. The complaint also details Yesh’s assertion that no license was granted for this use. Yesh is seeking $150,000 for each infringement in addition to attorneys’ fees.” 

When I said the penalties could be stiff, that was an understatement. There is the fine to consider. There is also the public relations nightmare of having your church in the news and in a lawsuit. Your church’s integrity will be tarnished.

The CCLI Copyright License covers projecting lyrics in worship, song sheets and songbooks. You can record your worship services, provided it is live music (no accompaniment tracks). The CCLI Streaming License enables you to live stream or podcast live-recorded services. This does not cover secular songs. The CCLI Rehearsal License goes even further. See the CCLI website for details.

The prices for annual licenses are based on the size of your church. The base license ranges from $290 for a church of 200, and goes up to $602 for a church of 2000. The streaming is an additional $89 and $223 respectively.

These are fair prices and help support the original artists. If you don’t get a license, you are stealing from the artists. Get the license that fits your need and be legal!