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What Do Church Licenses Cover?

by Susan Fontaine Godwin

In an effort to help churches and ministries with copyright compliance, several organizations have developed licenses and services, which grant churches permission for specific uses of particular groups of copyrights without obtaining permission from individual copyright owners. In 1988, Christian publishers and CCLI worked together to create an annual blanket license for use of songs in church congregational settings. The CCLI ( license grants permission for the use of songs in their program for the following activities:


CCLI – Christian Copyright License International

Coverage from CCLI ( -  Allows churches to reproduce songs in the CCLI Song program for congregational singing in the following ways:


  • Print songs, hymns, lyrics in bulletins for congregational singing;
  • create custom songbooks for congregational singing;
  • create visual format for projection of lyrics for use in congregational singing;
  • Arrange, print and copy your own arrangements for songs used for congregational singing where no published version is available;
  • Record your worship services (provided you only record live music and do not reproduce accompaniment tracks) and sell for up to $4 each for cassette tapes and CDs and $12 each for videotapes and DVDs.


What You Can NOT Do:


  • Photocopy or duplicate octavos, cantatas, musicals, handbell music, keyboard arrangements, vocal scores, orchestrations or other instrumental works;
  • Reproduce or make practice or rehearsal trax;
  • Reproduce or copy sound recordings;
  • Make translations of songs;
  • Post any songs to the internet
  • Reproduce songs in videos or audio recordings, unless recorded live in your worship service;
  • Use songs that are not in the CCLI Song Catalog program (for example, some secular songs like “White Christmas” by Irving Berlin);
  • Use any copyrighted material besides songs.

WORSHIPcast License From CCS (

One-Stop Church Internet Song Performance License - Allows churches to: 


  •  Webcast worship services and events featuring your performances of more than 16 million songs from ASCAP, BMI and SESAC repertoires. 
  • Archived audio files of streamed songs for listening (non-downloadable)
  • Songs must be performed by your own musicians and singers, or artists/groups, who grant permission to use their recordings of the songs.


What You Can NOT Do:


  • Download MP3 or digital song files (or provide for download)
  • Webcast third party sound recordings or accompaniment tracks.
  • Use any copyrights other than songs on your website; e.g., videos, literary works, visual images, etc.


PERFORMmusic License from CCS - One-stop license with more than 16 million songs from ASCAP, BMI and SESAC allows churches to perform & play songs for non-exempt activities: 

  • Playing music before or after a church service;
  • Non-exempt Concerts (non-admission charge);
  • Music on hold for phone system;
  • Music through a speaker system in the church facilities (bookstores, coffee shops);
  • Music for an aerobics/exercise class;
  • Seminars and conferences;
  • Weddings and funerals; 
  • Music at church functions such as a youth events, special dinners, fund raisers etc.
  • No reporting required

 What it does NOT cover:


  • Concerts with an admission charge
  • Dramatico-musical works performances

CVLI – Christian Video License International

Coverage from CVLI ( - Allows the following: 

  • Pastors can use selected movies to illustrate sermon points; 
  • Sunday schools and Youth Groups can view the latest videos; 
  • Educational classes can show videos for teaching and training.  If movies have multiple producers, permission is needed from all copyright holders.

What You Can NOT Do:

  • Reproduce or copy a video or film in whole or in part
  • Synchronize any portion of a video or film to another medium
  • Charge admission to view the movies
  • Show videos or films on TV broadcast or on the Internet

We recommend these licenses, as they provide coverage for some basic rights for many activities that your church probably needs. These licenses give you a solid foundation and represent a good place to start in establishing copyright compliance in your church activities. You can download a more comprehensive "White Paper" on "Do I Really Need All These Licenses?" at the CCS Education Center.





Reproduction of downloaded material is strictly prohibited except as noted on each copyright owner's material.