We always find that articles we publish on licensing generate lots of interest so we have asked CCLI to write a series of guest posts for us on commonly asked questions about licensing. Here is question number 1.
One of the questions CCLI is asked most often is:
“Why should churches pay to use songs and hymns in their times of worship?”
In common with all creative works, songs are protected by copyright from the moment they are written down or recorded in a tangible form. Copyright is owned by the writer of the song and has two elements; a moral right that prevents others from making changes to the song against the copyright owner’s wishes, and an economic right permits the copyright owner to charge anyone who wishes to reproduce, perform or record their work.
This means that permission is required if a church wishes to use a song in their times of worship unless that song is ‘Copyright Free’ or in the Public Domain (PD). If your church is blessed with a worship leader who writes the songs you sing, obtaining permission could be as simple as asking them. But for most worship songs, obtaining permission is more complicated.
However, churches in both the U.K. and US currently receive an exemption from the performance right. In the U.S. the copyright law gives churches a special exemption for songs “…of a religious nature…in the course of services at a place of worship or other religious assembly.” While in the U.K. the right to perform a song in public is administered by PRS for Music who provided a concession so that a PRS licence is not required by a church if the only time music is performed on their premises is during acts of worship. Read More