By far, one of the questions we are asked most often is, “Why do I need another license? Aren’t we already covered under CCLI?”. The difference between performance licenses (CCS) and reproduction or copying license (CCLI) is by far one of THE most confusing issues facing churches. Because you have a license allowing you to record a live performance does not mean you have a license that allows you to play or publicly perform the song, because these are two different rights that are controlled by the songwriter/publisher.
However, there is good news! The US Copyright Law has a Religious Service Exemption (Section 110) which allows churches (and other religious organizations) to play or perform music without a license. So, there are not thousands of churches illegally performing songs in their “religious or worship service” because of the exemption.
The exemption states:
“…performance of a non-dramatic literary or musical work of a dramatico-musical work of a religious nature or display of a work, in the course of services at a place of worship or other religious assembly shall not constitute infringement of copyright.”
You will notice that the exemption does not include “reproducing, such as a recording, or copying of a music work.” That is why you need a license (CCLI covers 300,000+ songs Christian songs) to make a recording (or reproduce) a song from a live worship performance. There are six different exclusive rights of the copyright owner:
- Reproduction (like recording or copying music, video, and other works)
- Public performance (playing or performing music, or other works, in a public place.
- Public display
- Derivative (adaptation like an arrangement or translation)
- Performance of digitally transmitted sound recording (like on Spotify)
For more information on copyrights, we encourage you to download our Copyrights 101 Fact Sheet.
However, when you play or perform music outside of your religious service, your church or organization will require a performance license, just like any other business or organization. There are three major performance rights organizations (ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC) manage the performance rights and licensing for almost all songwriters and publishers in the US, and CCS has partnered with them to create a simple, one-stop licensing for all of the songs in the PROs catalogs.
There are two different performance licenses to cover music:
- CCS’s PERFORMmusic License allows your church play and perform more than 20 million songs anywhere in your facilities or satellite campuses.
- CCS’s WORSHIPcast License allows you to stream your performances of up to 20 million songs on your website.
It can be confusing trying to understand what the various church blanket licenses cover and which ones your church needs. However, we try to simplify it by recommending a mosaic of various church blanket licenses. Blanket licenses provide churches with the simplest and most cost-efficient method to stay copyright compliant. These licenses allow different uses and cover different works. A blanket license allows licensees to use a catalog of copyrighted works for one fee. Several blanket licenses have been created to meet the needs of churches and ministries. CCS and CCLI both offer blanket licenses. Our Blanket License Fact Sheet goes into detail of the various offerings.
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.