Don’t Put All Of Your Eggs In One Basket When It Comes to Copyrights

While companies like CCS strive to make copyright licensing easier and simpler, we still don’t have one music license to cover all the creative ways churches want to use copyrighted material. Unfortunately, it can leave cracks in your copyright coverage if your church puts all their eggs in one basket with only one license.

It’s probably one of the most common misunderstandings we encounter when consulting and training with churches. “Oh, we’re covered for that activity, we have the CCLI license,” is a stock response when talking about featuring music in a concert, Easter special event or a fundraiser. In fact, the CCLI church copyright license is a great duplication license for congregational singing, but it does not cover performance rights that allow churches to play or perform music. CCS’s PERFORMmusic License does cover, however, these types of events and activities.

Good news for churches: The Religious Services Exemption allows churches to perform and play any type of  music in your worship service, but you need performance licenses for activities outside your service.

There are some incredible blanket licenses available to churches, but often times church leaders are not clear on what they DO and DO NOT cover. You can learn more details about available blanket licenses by downloading this free Fact Sheet.

For example, the CCLI church copyright license allows churches to make copies of 300,000 Christian songs for congregational singing in several different ways, but it does not cover playing or performing music for special Easter (or other holiday) productions that are ticketed events or not considered a religious service. It also only covers 300,000 Christian songs, so there are some secular compositions that may be featured in an Easter program that would not be covered.

Where does that leave church leaders? Some may be confused or frustrated by all the licenses, but when you understand the various blanket licenses available and use them as a mosaic of coverage, just like a blanket, they provide your church with the most comprehensive, simple and cost-effective way to make sure you’re legally using copyrighted material.

The right combination of blanket licenses can help churches greatly reduce their risks of copyright infringement, so we recommend that church leaders start out by fully understanding the licenses and obtaining the ones that make sense for their activities. It’s often times not an “either or” situation, as most church licenses do not overlap, but together create a mosaic of licensing that provides comprehensive coverage.

Another point of confusion we hear quite often is “What is the difference between CCS and CCLI?” Both companies have similar names and both companies were founded to serve the church in the area of copyright licensing.  However, each company primarily addresses a different area of copyright need, offering licensing for specific catalogs or groups of copyrights with different rights.

For example, CCLI license primarily addresses the “reproduction rights” for congregational singing of music, and CCS’s licenses primarily address the area of performance rights for playing or performing music. In most cases, the two companies’ licenses do not overlap or address the same rights, song catalogs or activities (with the exception of the streaming licenses).  Read more about the differences between CCS and CCLI.

It’s easy to make sure your upcoming Easter programs and ongoing activities are copyright compliant by obtaining one or more of the various blanket licenses available, and in most cases you can secure coverage immediately by signing up.

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 andPinterest.  

The information contained herein is for informational purposes only, and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel.