Advertise on ChoralNet 
ChoralNet logo
The mission of the ACDA is to inspire excellence in choral music through education, performance, composition, and advocacy.

License to perform music in church but not worship?

Do I need to purchase a license to play or perform any music outside of the worship service at my church?  For instance, we teach kids songs at Vacation Bible School.  Does that require a license?  If a women's Bible study plays music from a CD as they are gathering and preparing to meet, does that require a license?  I found this website offering a license:  http://www.copyrightsolver.com/services/performmusic
 
Do I need to purchase this license to be legal?
 
Thanks for your help.
 
Denise Makinson
Director of Worship & Music Ministries
Southwood Lutheran Church
Lincoln, NE
Replies (7): Threaded | Chronological
on June 15, 2012 6:37am
Generally a license is required when music is presented in a public performance, i.e., in the presence of an audience. It would seem that neither VBS nor women's Bible study would meet that requirement as no audience is present.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 18, 2012 7:39am
If you are using music in a church setting, all uses should be covered by your CCLI license. If your church/ministry doesn't already have a CCLI license I strongly recomment you getting one. You can google CCLI (Christian Copyright License Incorporated) and the site should cover all your questions. The licenses they have fees associated with the size of your congregation. The good thing is that once you buy the license for the year, you can use it with any of your services/outreaches at the church location.
 
on June 18, 2012 9:41am
Once again, please do not ASSUME that a CCLI license will cover the use of music in public performances which are NOT either a religious service or a religious assembly.  A concert series would not be covered, and I suspect that this license only covers music that is represented by the licensers.  To be sure, ask questions and read the information that's availlable.  What you consider to be "outreach" may not meet the legal requirements.
 
Disclaimer:  I have never been associated with a church that had such licenses (suggesting that only certain kinds of churches find them necessary), so I know very little about them directly.  But they CANNOT represent music that they DO NOT represent directly.  Not even ASCAP or BMI can claim to do that!
All the best,
John
on June 20, 2012 7:42am
What I am looking for is whether or not it is legal to play a CD (that I've purchased) in a public setting such as for a bible study or large group meeting at the church.  I have CCLI, LisenSing, and Onelicense to cover most of my print needs, but do I need to purchase a license to play music from a CD over a sound system?
 
Thanks,
Denise
 
on June 20, 2012 12:56pm
Denise:  It's questions like this that make copyright law so INTERESTING (read "totally confusing")!!!!
 
I suspect--but I don't claim to know--that the answer hinges on the definition of "public."  Playing music in public does require a license, as far as I know.  Commercial recordings are free for use for private entertainment and commercial use of them requires permission/payment, but your case is somewhere in between.  (But I don't know for sure because most of my career has been in live performance or in MAKING recordings.)  So the question would be how the law defines "public."  It's probably in there someplace, if you can stay awake long enough to look for it!
John
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 20, 2012 1:06pm
Why don't you call up the CCLI people and ask them?
 
Even though there's a technical legal distinction between a worship service and a "public performance" in a church, our experience with ASCAP is that as soon as they hear the performance space is a church, they don't want to talk to us, even if it's an outside group just renting the church as a performance space.
 
I think you should not worry about it. It's like singing "Happy Birthday To You" at a birthday party. Private event, no performance license. Although church activities might be "public" in the sense that you would let anyone in, they're effectively private activities for church members. And no one in their right mind would sue a church for playing a CD at a bible study.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 21, 2012 12:33pm
This seems to be a complicated issue.  I did find this helpful document: 
 
I appreciate the input!
Denise
 
  • You must log in or register to be able to reply to this message.