We Christians have a bad reputation out there when it comes to copyright violations. We have, for years, photocopied choral music and stolen corporate logos for our youth group T-shirts. I say its time to be “above reproach.”
Much, if not all, of the music we sing in church is copyright protected, and there are some legal and ethical issues you must adhere to. This is discussion 2 of 3:
In our last blog entry, we discussed copyright protection of displayed song lyrics. What about performance recording (audio or video) of your choir / praise team singing copyright protected music? Have you considered the legal / ethical ramifications of this?
Many churches have been recording their worship services and are giving it very little thought. Bottom line, the royalties needed to record and duplicate audio or video copies of your music team singing copyrighted music (side note: just because it’s an “old hymn” in your “old hymn book” doesn’t mean it’s not copyright protected) are NOT covered under the typical CCLI license and are rather expensive. On average, you can easily plan to pay $.25 per song per unit. If you sing 8 songs per week and want to make 50 copies each week you can quickly get a license bill of over $5000.
Remember, if you didn’t create it or you don’t own it, you can’t copy it without paying a fee to the person who does.
There is some good news, however, regarding streaming your service. By definition “streaming” is where the video file is stored on a providers server and the viewers are watching / accessing the file off that server. The file is not downloadable (a podcast or DVD disc). This scenario can be covered by CCLI’s (www.CCLI.com) streaming license. Like the lyric license, your church is charged a relatively inexpensive annual fee based on attendance size.