Ask the Expert – What are the copyright implications of streaming our services online?

Ask the Expert – What are the copyright implications of streaming our services online?

Ben Rea from New Zealand asks:

“We have just started live streaming our services online. Do you know anything about the copyright implications of doing this or is a regular CCLI licence OK?”

Rich Burrough from CCLI reponds:

Some churches now make their services available on the internet, either as a downloadable audio or video file, or by streaming it live. By doing this they can reach many more people with their content than those able to attend the service itself. There are copyright implications of doing this, and these will depend on the components involved. If the stream or download includes live and/or recorded music, the liturgy, the sermon, readings or dramatic performances etc., each of these elements is covered by copyright. Therefore, before the service is made available online, care should be taken to ensure that each element has been cleared for distribution by the appropriate copyright owner. In addition, permission should be sought from all musicians, readers, prayers and preachers before you record or broadcast their performance.

The web streaming of music protected by copyright is administered by the PRS for Music/MCPS* Limited Online Music Licence (LOML). This licence allows a number of small scale online services including limited streaming, pure webcasting (broadcasting your services over the internet) and podcasting which includes music. The cost of the LOML is based on a number of different factors including the number of streams and downloads per year. Unfortunately, the LOML doesn’t cover all uses of music. If you are using commercial music recordings you must also have permission from the company that owns the recording of that musical work – usually a record company. You can find out from Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) who owns the sound recording that you would like to use. Similarly, there is no blanket licence to cover other copyrighted materials that you may wish to use, such as poems, liturgy or film scenes, and permission will be needed from each copyright owner before including these.

For more details of the LOML, visit For PPL visit

CCLI have also produced a helpful factfile called The Church and the Internet. You can download it here.

CCLI USA have also produced a helpful video:

*  Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society


Other copyright related posts you might like:

What are the copyright implications of using a secular song for worship?

Ask the Expert – Is burning CDs from iTunes legal when used for educational purposes?

Ask the Expert – How to copyright and licensing songs I have written

Ask the Expert – Is it OK to make a worship song our own, or should we follow the original recording?

The CCLI License: What Is Legal and What is Not?