November always ushers in a cornucopia of church holiday programs–from harvest activities to Thanksgiving events to Advent and finally Christmas. It’s a wonderful time for church leaders and worship directors to invite their communities to join in celebrating this special season. But let’s be honest, it can also be the most challenging, frustrating and exhausting season for music ministers and creative arts directors. And trying to deal with copyright issues can be confusing and add extra stress to an already frenzied schedule.
So here are some simple steps and guidelines that can help navigate your holiday productions and limit potential copyright infringement for your church’s ministry:
7 Steps To Copyright Compliance
1) Understand and fully utilize church copyright blanket licenses.There are five basic blanket licenses for churches that simplify and save time when obtaining permissions for your activities. You can instantly purchase these licenses online and get immediate coverage for the copyrights and uses authorized by the licenses. Read more details about blanket licenses.
If you want to webcast or stream your program online, you’ll need a music internet performance license (CCS’s WORSHIPcast Online Streaming License covers more than 20 million Christian and secular songs.) A performance facilities and event license is necessary for most Christmas programs (PERFORMmusic Onsite Facilities License covers more than 20 million songs from ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC.)
2) Use the P.L.A.N. system:
P – Prepare a list of all copyrighted materials and uses.
L – Learn the basics of US Copyright Law and how it impacts church activities.
A – Allow time to obtain licensing and permissions.
N – Never use copyrighted material without permission.
You can find FREE videos, fact sheets and articles on copyright education here.
3) If you plan on recording your program (audio or video), obtain mechanical and synchronization licenses for all copyrighted music and sound recordings.
4) Be sure to get signed consent and release forms from any participants (staff or volunteers) who will appear in your production. This is especially important for any children or minors.
5) Do not distribute any recorded and duplicated material (CDs, DVDs, songbooks, etc.) until all copyrighted material is cleared.
6) Don’t assume all Christmas songs are in the public domain; many are copyrighted and owned by secular companies and require permission. Click here for a list of Christmas secular songs.
7) If you need help in finding copyright owners and understanding how to get licensing, contact a copyright professional.
As you review your production checklists, if you have questions regarding copyrights or would like more information, call 1-855-576-5837 or you can chat live with a member of the CCS team on our website.
About Christian Copyright Solutions: CCS’s quest is to help churches and Christian ministries “do music right.” CCS is an expert on church music copyrights and our primary focus is providing licensing and clear educational resources to churches, as well as representation, administration, and advocacy for copyright owners. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. The information contained herein is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel.