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Replay: Useful Information on Copyright Essentials for Local CME Churches


This page provides information, notes, and the recording from the Copyright Essentials Webinar held on April 29, 2023.


The Copyright Essentials for the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church Webinar was held on Saturday, April 29, 2023 (1 PM EST, Noon CST, 10 AM PST). This webinar was designed for local CME churches and addressed copyright issues, risks and vulnerabilities for the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, and the appropriate licensing and permissions needed to use copyright material. The Webinar included information on:

  • recording and streaming worship services;

  • displaying lyrics

  • copying songs from hymnals, websites, and other song sources for congregational use

  • printing and publishing of copyright materials including photos and other resources advertising events for online and social media platforms.

The webinar was sponsored by the College of Bishops in collaboration with the General Department of Communication and Information Technology (CIT). The Copyright Essentials Webinar featured the following professionals providing expertise in copyright compliance.

  • Attorney Yan (Regina) Song, an Intellectual Property (I.P.) lawyer at the Aeon Law Firm in Seattle, WA, which specializes in intellectual property (patent, trademark and copyright) law.

  • Mr. Nate Scott, Senior Vice President of Operations at Christian Copyright Licensing International in Vancouver, WA. (CCLI), which provides information and resources for churches and copyright owners around the world, relating to copyrights of Christian worship songs.

  • Attorney Ouida Y. Brown, General Counsel of the CME Church.

A Q & A session followed the presentations which addressed copyright compliance and risks.

Important Notes from the Copyright Essentials Webinar It is important for all local churches in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church to abide by copyright laws and rules to ensure that copyrighted works are used appropriately. The pandemic caused a shift in our churches using technology and online communication platforms to connect and engage with our members and the community, and stream live. Our local churches must ensure that they are using copyright material appropriately in their church building, at events, and online. Please review the recording, the panelists' presentations, and the Q & A session near the end of the video (beginning at 58:55), The information will provide our churches with great guidance on copyright essentials. Additionally, notes from the Copyright Essentials Webinar are provided below.

Using Images Images are subject to the laws of copyright and intellectual property. Copyrighted images require permission to use and/or a license. When using images for local church materials, ensure that the image is licensed to use and provide the appropriate credits.

Useful Resources U.S. Copyright Office

Using Copyright Music The CME Hymnal is copyrighted and can be used by our local CME Churches. The U.S. Copyright Act contains a “worship services exception” that allows churches to sing and/or play music (either on musical instruments or play pre-recorded music) during worship services without a license. The exception applies only to performing music. Churches do need a license for all other uses of copyrighted works, for example, reproducing song lyrics and music for bulletin inserts, reproducing sheet music for choir rehearsals, and even projecting lyrics onto a screen for viewing by the congregation during worship. Churches using copyright music need permission to use and/or the appropriate licenses to use when on site and /or streaming live to platforms. Local churches need to have the appropriate licenses for using and streaming music. A disclaimer statement for a video indicating that the music is not owned violates copyright standards and is not acceptable to use. Music Licenses CIT has listed various licensing options to assist with helping you to meet the copyright needs of your church. If your church has a license agreement with a streaming service provider, be sure to check the agreement so you know what is and is not covered in the license. Licensing Options CHRISTIAN COPYRIGHT LICENSING, INC. Church Copyright License allows for:

  • Reproduction of song lyrics is found in hymnals, websites, chorus books, and similar publications for use by/for the congregation. This includes electronically storing, retrieving, and utilizing song files on computers, presentation software, and similar resources to enable visual projection of songs.

  • Distribution of song lyrics in bulletins, liturgies, programs, song sheets, and songbooks compiled by your church. This also includes distributing lyrics by overhead transparencies and slides.

  • Recording songs in your live worship services, including meditations, preludes, postludes, interludes, fanfares, handbell, and vocal and instrumental specials by either audio or audiovisual means, provided that 1) accompaniment tracks are not reproduced, and permission is obtained directly from the producer, 2) such recordings are for your church and its activities, and the quantity distributed does not exceed 15% of the church size of the license, and 3) to offset the cost of production, you may charge up to a specified amount for each copy duplicated.

  • It does NOT cover song language translation, selling recordings or lyrics outside of church functions, or streaming and broadcasting.

  • Currently, song reporting is required to be submitted online once every 2.5 years.

Streaming and Podcasting License allows for:

  • Streaming participating songs from your church’s proprietary website, a hosted website, or a streaming service.

  • Live streaming and retransmitting songs performed in your church services in audio and/or video form.

  • Distributing audio or video files of songs performed in your church services to personal computers, portable media players, or a similar device capable of receiving such files.

  • Does NOT cover charging a fee or receiving compensation for any of the above permissions, authorize any third-party to stream songs, stream artist or record label recordings of songs, or stream songs at church events where a financial charge, including donations, is required to attend.

  • Please note that this license is considered an add-on option to the CCLI Church Copyright License, which must also be purchased. Also, there are two licensing options available for streaming, and that the information here is for the basic license. For more information on the specifics of both licensing options for streaming, please visit the website.

Church Rehearsal License allows for:

  • Streaming commercial audio and/or video recordings with your worship leaders, musicians, and vocalists from your church’s website, a hosted website, or a streaming service.

  • Digitally distributing by downloading recordings such that the audio part is captured, saved, and/or stored on a personal computer or similar device, including distributing them on a CD, flash drive, or similar device.

  • Does NOT cover things like, but is not limited to, charging a fee for recordings, recording your adaptation of the songs, and retaining copies of recordings for personal use. They are intended as temporary audio reference copies for learning and rehearsing.

  • Please note that this license is considered an add-on option to the CCLI Church Copyright License, which must also be purchased.

  • For a list of songs included in these CCLI licenses, please see here.

CHRISTIAN COPYRIGHT SOLUTIONS WorshipCast Streaming License allows for:

  • Streaming live or on-demand performances of copyrighted music, including worship services and special events, from your church website.

  • This license is not limited to worship service performances but covers concerts, weddings, funerals, youth and holiday arrangements, and studio recordings for worship teams outside the church.

  • This license does NOT cover downloading music or webcasting of master recordings or accompaniment tracks, which would require additional licensing.

  • Song usage must be reported if weekly church attendance is over 5,000.

PERFORMmusic License allows for:

  • Live and pre-recorded music performance outside of religious services, such as vacation bible school, free concerts, on-hold music, retreats, picnics, graduations, dances, fundraisers, conferences and seminars, and adult and youth group gatherings.

  • This license does NOT cover streaming or broadcasting the event.

  • Song usage reporting is not required.

ONE LICENSE Reprint License (Annual, Event, or Single-Use) allows for:

  • Reproduction of, printing, and showing on-screen lyrics and music used by a congregation in a religious service, such as bulletins, programs, worship aid, song sheet, songbook, transparency, or via an electronic storage and retrieval system for projection of words or music or both.

  • Reproduction does NOT include choir parts, accompaniments, complete scores, and instrumental parts of any kind.

  • Annual licenses cover consistent usage throughout the year for the church and congregational gatherings hosted or sponsored by the church, such as youth groups, small groups, etc.

  • Event licenses are available to cover retreats, conventions, and conferences no more than seven days in duration.

  • Single-Use licenses are available for one-time events, including weddings and funerals. You must purchase a single-use license for each event.

  • Reporting is required weekly and must be submitted online.

Limited Podcast Streaming License allows for:

  • Streaming worship services containing covered songs. Content can be distributed to your organization’s website or through other platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Zoom, Vimeo, and Instagram and allows you to stream to members who may be homebound, traveling, or serving in active duty.

  • It does NOT allow your organization to archive your services until the end of the duration of the license.

  • Reporting is required weekly and must be submitted online.

Practice-Track License allows for:

  • Reproducing and Distributing practice track recordings provided by publishers and CD’s or MP3s for choir and ensemble members.

  • Recording your versions of covered songs for the ensemble.

  • Does NOT include commercial master recordings for use within live worship service.

For a complete list of member publishers who participate in the One License options, see here. The options below are subscription-based options that grant you the necessary permissions to stream music through its website anywhere publicly. Soundtrack Your Brand

  • Provides your church rights to stream music in an outside venue, such as a rented space for events with a subscription-based plan. The subscription offers both streaming license rights and public performance license rights.

  • Provides your church rights to stream music in a commercial venue with a subscription-based plan. This is a fully licensed subscription service for businesses with no contract requirements.


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