Can we show online videos in our church?
Video-sharing platforms offer a treasure trove of content for almost every conceivable situation.
However, as the sheer volume of content and the number of channels increases, understanding if andwhen you can show this content in church becomes ever more challenging.
So is it okay to stream videos during your church services and activities?
Showing content from video-sharing websites in church
Put simply, you should always have permission from the copyright owner,regardless of the source.
CCLI recommends you always use official sourceswhen you are playing copyrighted content.
Not all videos uploaded to video-sharing websites have been done so by, or withthe permission of, the copyright owner or licensor.
With a staggering number of videos being uploaded to the internet every minute, it is impossible for any platform to control or police the content being uploaded.
It’s likely that many ofthese videos infringe copyright, either accidentally or deliberately, and many sites will place the responsibility for obtaining permission on the creator (check the platform’s T&Cs for details).
If you can find content that has been uploaded by an official source, the permission you need to show it may be obtained in a number of ways.
Scenes and clips from movies and TV
The easiest way for churches and ministries to get permission to show authorised movies and television shows otherwise intended for personal or private use, is through CCLI’s Church Video Licence.
In this case, the licence is considered as consent from the “respective licensor”.
Check that the scene has been uploaded by the copyright owner or someone authorised by the owner.
If the scene has been uploaded to the studio’s own channel, or that of an official partner, you can be confident you’re viewing content from an official source.
Studios may have agreements with third parties to upload their content for them. In this case, check carefully that the channel is an official one.
If a scene has been uploaded by an individual, e.g. a fan of the movie, then it should not be deemed covered by the Church Video Licence and consequently it should not be shown during church activities.
Videos that show the lyrics for communal singing are increasingly common on video-sharing platforms.
The CCLI Church Copyright Licence and Streaming Plus Licence do not cover the visual element of a song video.
Therefore, regardless of the source, it is recommended you have direct permission from the owner before displaying a song or lyric video in church.
Sometimes, videos may be embedded on the publisher’s website with details of how they can be used.
If the owner or publisher’s description permits a video’s use in church, then this would constitute consent.
If there is any doubt, contact the publisher or copyright owner for permission before showing the video.
Song lyrics cannot be changed to fit a church’s preferences or theology unless permission has been given by the song owner.
One of the exclusive rights of a copyright owner is 'derivative works', so any changes must have the owner’s permission.
You are free to arrange songs as you wish, as long as it doesn’t change the melody, lyrics or fundamental character of a song.
You may want to start with the chorus, for example, if it fits the flow of your worship set.
Feel free to skip verses etc - just don’t change the lyrics!
As a general rule, CCLI recommends that you don’t show any other videos without the explicit permission ofthe copyright owner.
If in doubt, it may be possible to establish who owns the copyright.
Seeking their direct permission is the safest way to ensure that you’re acting legally and doing the right thing.
Copyright notice on projections and in print
Part of the agreement for the CCLI licence is that your church includes the copyright information on each printed or projected song copy.
For a song projection, the information only has to appear once, and is usually placed at the beginning or end.
An example of the information to display is:
Words and music by John Doe
© 2018 Good Music Co.
Used by Permission.
CCLI Licence #12345
The number e.g. #12345, should be your church’s CCLI licence number, not the song’s CCLI ID number.
Need further information or guidance?
Contact the Diocese of Derby Communications Team: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or contact CCLI: us.ccli.com