Church Licensing

               Did you know...?

The Copyright Law of The United States can be complicated but one part that is easy to interpret deals with music and videos:

Without express permission from the rightful owner of the song, it is illegal to make a copy of that song. Posting to a church website any video that includes a copyrighted song without permission from the holder of the copyright is illegal. Showing motion pictures and other audiovisual programs intended for personal, private use in a public setting without permission is illegal.

In an effort to keep Oklahoma United Methodist Churches compliant with copyright law, the conference has entered into an agreement with Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI) and with Church Video Licensing International (CVLI).

CCLI License: (for additional copyright information, go to

Each Oklahoma church has its own, unique CCLI Church Copyright License number.  This license gives the church legal authorization to copy from more than 300,000 approved songs for congregational use – including distributing photocopies of lyrics and/or displaying the lyrics on projection screens during services held inside the church building. To comply with the terms of the CCLI agreement, each Oklahoma United Methodist Church must display – for each song lyric projected on screen and/or printed in the bulletin – the song title, writer credit(s) and copyright notice in substantially the following form:

10,000 Reasons

Jonas Martin, Matt Redman

© 2011 Said and Done Music

(Administration by EMI Christian Music Publishing)

Used by Permission.  CCLI License # ______

CVLI License:  (for additional copyright information, go to

The conference has one CVLI Church Video License number that is used by all churches.  This license is an agreement with studios and producers that provides legal coverage for license holders to show publicly – within the walls of the church building – motion pictures and other audiovisual programs intended for personal, private use.

To comply with the terms of the CVLI agreement, “No specific titles, or any characters from such titles, or producers’ names will be advertised or publicized to the general public unless authorized by certain producers. No admission or other fee will be charged to the audience.”

This means churches:

            CAN advertise the movie

                        in bulletins handed out in church

                        on signs on interior church walls

                        in newsletters mailed to members

            CANNOT advertise the movie

                        on exterior church walls or signs

                        on the church website

                        in newsletters or bulletins that are posted on the church website.

Streaming and Podcasting

Many churches now post video of their services online.  To do this legally churches must purchase either:

            webcasting licenses from the three major performance rights societies: ASCAP,             BMI and SESAC

            or purchase a CCLI Streaming and Podcasting License.

A license is needed because live streaming or podcasting over the Internet is recognized as a “broadcast performance.”  Because this performance goes outside the confines of a church building, the religious services performance exemption written into the Copyright Law of The United States does not apply.  Also, broadcast performances are not covered by the standard CCLI Church Copyright License.

The CCLI Streaming and Podcasting License allows churches to legally include copyrighted songs from an approved list of more than 300,000 songs in a webcast or a video posted to the church website.

The cost of the streaming/podcasting license is based upon the size of the purchasing church’s membership and is the sole responsibility of the purchasing church.

Reprinted in part with permission
East Ohio Conference Website