Frequently Asked Questions
Isn’t my use of music in my YouTube video Fair Use?
The quick answer is no. To explain it more in depth check out this video.
How do I find the copyright owner?
The number one place to research the owner of a Christian song is CCLI.com, they’ll even tell you who the administrator is in the catalog section on the song you are search. Other resources are ASCAP.com, BMI.com, SESAC.com.
My church and/or ministry has non-profit status; do we have to pay royalties?
Yes, you still have to pay royalties. Your non-profit status provides you with an exemption from some taxes, but it doesn’t exempt you from paying royalties for copyrighted songs.
Can I print song lyrics on a t-shirt of other merchandise for sale?
Not without permission of the copyright owner, so you will need to obtain permission prior to manufacture.
I have found albums and music videos on a file sharing / bit torrent site. Is it ok for me to download your album or video from there?
While administrators appreciate your support of music and videos, these sites do not have permission to make these files available as downloads. Therefore, downloading from these sites is a breach of copyright and illegal. Most administrators neither approve of, nor condone these sites and discourage downloading music or videos from them. These days music is readily and easily available via legitimate services, so you are encouraged to access music through these platforms.
What is a PRO?
A performance rights organization. In the US, we have three options: ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. In Canada, the PRO is SOCAN. And in the UK, it is PRS. They collect money for performances of songs on the radio, in TV programs, live venues, and websites. The writer decides which PRO they will affiliate with.
Can I add or change lyrics to a copyright song?
Not without the permission of the copyright owner. Copyright owners have the exclusive right to add or change lyrics (and the underlying music) to a copyrighted song.
Where can I purchase copies of sheet music for Christian songs?
What is a CCLI license?
The CCLI License allows lyric storage, projections, song sheets, bulletin inserts, instrumental/vocal arrangements and service recordings used for congregational worship. Optional rehearsal coverage enables duplication and sharing of commercial audio recordings and custom rehearsal tracks. Optional coverage is also available for streaming or podcasting recorded services.
Where can I learn more about how licensing and music publishing works?
The NMPA (National Music Publishers’ Association) has some great information about this topic. They have put together a great page describing the basics of music publishing. Click here to view Music Publishing 101.
Does the CCLI Stream license include the right for a church to post their service on YouTube?
YouTube is an authorized site that may be used for streaming your services; however, the Copyright Owners of the songs have every right to (a) restrict the streaming of their content, or (b) to monetize and place ads on videos containing their owned copyrights.
When using YouTube for streaming your services, you may encounter the blocking of copyrighted songs. When uploading your video you may see an option to “claim ownership”, or to answer a question, “Do you own the copyright?” Please understand that this is not referring to the “ownership” of your church’s worship video; it is referring to the copyright ownership of the individual song(s) that are contained in your video. Therefore, you should say “No” to claiming any ownership unless you are the copyright owner of each song on the video. Saying “yes” will only cause a string of disputes between you, the copyright owner, and YouTube.