Livestreaming or podcasting a worship service is a great way to reach out to those who can’t attend the service in person. However, there are copyright issues to consider and congregations should take appropriate steps to avoid potential copyright infringement if you choose to stream or post worship services online.
Livestreaming or posting recordings of worship services that include copyrighted material is not covered by either the religious services exemption or your basic One License and CCLI licenses. The religious services exemption covers the performance or display of certain copyrighted works during a religious service. However, it does not apply to streaming, broadcasting or recording the service. Your CCLI and One License annual licenses allow you to project or reprint copyrighted music, but also do not apply to streaming, broadcasting or recording the service. That said, both One License and CCLI offer an upgraded license option that provides some coverage for using copyrighted music in streaming or podcasting activities. There is an additional fee to get this license and the license will only cover the music included in that company’s specific catalog. You can find more information on their websites.
Securing those licenses may provide coverage for music, but it does not cover any videos you might want to use. A CVLI license allows you to show certain copyrighted video clips during the service, but does not cover recording or streaming that copyrighted video material online.
Tips to Remember
You could use public domain or material that the Church owns the copyright in, but you should steer clear of other copyrighted material unless you’ve secured permission from the copyright owner.
If you want to stream or broadcast your services, you should secure a streaming and/or podcasting license from CCLI, One License or another licensing company.
Remember this will only cover music, not videos and only covers the music catalog for that license. For videos or music not covered by one of your licenses, you’d have to look at other options:
- Obtain advance permission from copyright owners to stream and/or make and distribute recordings of services in which copyrighted works are performed or shown.
- Avoid the use of copyrighted material in recorded/streamed services. Only use public domain material or material the Church owns the copyright in.
- Turn off the recording/streaming device when copyrighted works are being performed or shown during a service. Some churches will fill this gap by inserting other content without copyright concerns in place of the live activity or possibly provide a link to the song/video online, if applicable, so the viewer can view the content on another site and rejoin when the livestream or recording of the service resumes.