Frequently Asked Questions

Does my church need a music license?

If your church is using music with words printed in the bulletin, you need a CCLI license or another music license.

The Christian Copyright License allows you to reproduce the words to music covered under the licensing agreement on overhead projectors, in PowerPoint presentations for multi-media worship, or in your bulletin. You may find out more about the CCLI license at is a new copyright licensing venture that offers a multi-publisher annual copyright reprint license for churches. The OneLicense list of publisher-members already reads like the "who's who" of church music publishing, with new publishers signing on every month.

This Internet-based operation allows churches to obtain one-time or annual licenses and rto eport all titles used directly on the impressive website. License fees are equitably based upon the size of the congregation. Find out more at

How can I purchase a license to show videos in my church?

Service by United Methodist Communications enables churches and groups of churches to obtain licenses to show home videocassettes and DVDs  of motion pictures.  The service is the result of an agreement between UMCom and Christian Video Licensing International.  Under this agreement, UMCom will process orders, collect fees (based on membership figures) and distribute the licensing.  Churches with 49 or fewer members pay an annual fee of $45; 50 to 199 members, $75;  200-499, $150;  500 or more, $200. 

The fees will cover Christian Video Licensing International's full producers' list, including its Family Values selection and provide legal coverage for religious institutions to show clips or complete motion pictures in a variety of activities.  The organization's Web site ( includes a comprehensive list of studios and producers covered by the licensing agreements. 

Licenses are available through UMCom's toll-free Customer Service number, (888) 346-3862, or by e-mail at


How much does an exhibition license and/or a BMI/ASCAP license cost?

Cost vary for an exhibition license, depending on the film.  Each distribution company has a catalog with pricing.  A Disney flick will cost you a lot more than a Veggie Tales show.  It can run from $50 per viewing to over $1000.  The best deal on BMI/ASCAP for churches is through the Willow Creek Association.  Membership in the association entitles you to a substantial discount on BMI/ASCAP licensing.

One area where you can open yourself up for trouble with BMI/ASCAP is if you happen to have a big popular hall that you rent out for wedding receptions.  This kind of venue is a magnet for the copyright police.

Can I rent a movie and show it to small groups at my church?

No.  Churches have faced steep fines for publicly showing rented videos that are meant for home use only.  Even if you do not charge for the event, you are violating copyright laws.  Some movie producers participate in the Christian Video Licensing program, but to be covered, you have to purchase an annual license.

FROM: GBOD, The General Board of Discipleship, Nashville 

The answer to both questions is"yes."An Associated Press release in this morning's (8/1/07) Nashville newspaper, The Tennessean, (p.2E) reports that local authorities recently arrested a man who copied hundreds of CDs and DVDs and was selling them from the trunk of his car. He was sentenced in Federal Court this week to 10 months in prison for copyright violation. At the time of his arrest, authorities found more than 500 copied recordings and films in his car, along with recording equipment powered by his car battery, blank CDs and DVDs, some of which were still being shown in theaters, plus $11,000 worth of illegally recorded CDs and DVDs and $10,000 in cash. The copies will be destroyed and the cash paid to the victim industries as restitution.

 The U.S. Attorney said, “Violations of intellectual property crimes and copyright laws such as this occupy a high priority with both the Department of Justice and this U.S. Attorney's office in particular."

 What does this mean for local churches? It means that if you are doing any of the following without the proper permissions or licenses, you;re in danger:

-          Showing videos at your church youth group, child care, camps, retreats, or Sunday Schools, even if those videos are legally rented or purchased.

-          Showing film clips in worship as sermon illustrations.

-          Video recording your worship services, choir concerts, children's musicals, or anything else that contains copyrighted music.

-          Making audio recordings of services, concerts, musicals, or anything else that contains copyrighted music.

-          Making copies of original recordings of choir or solo music, accompaniment tracks, or by original artists, and giving or selling them to your choir members so that they can practice the music or learn their parts outside of rehearsal.

-          Selling or giving away audio or visual recordings containing copyrighted music, including to performers, parents, members, or shut-ins.

-          Making or allowing the making of audio or video recordings of weddings or funerals in your church that contain copyrighted music.

-          Radio broadcasting or TV telecasting, live or pre-recorded, of worship services containing copyrighted music.

Need help? Look at the information on the GBOD music Web site at,19


How can I determine the status of a song's copyright?

To determine the current copyright status of any hymn or song, you need to know the following:

  • Date of creation
  • Date of copyright
  • For works created before January 1, 1978, whether or not copyright was renewed for a second term.
In addition, you may find it helpful to contact the publisher or copyright holder personally for help or information. CCLI members will also find information, resources, and assistance from CCLI's web site:; telephone: 1-800-234-2446.

Does it make any difference legality wise if the church itself purchases the tapes/DVDs?

No. It's still considered a single user/household *unless* you buy from a distributor that is authorized to give/sell you distribution rights.  There are educational distributors who can sell/lease a film/DVD to a church, both educational and feature films.
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