How does a Canadian congregation get a license or permission to show videos and DVDs in church?


Are other Canadian CRC congregations and maybe also Canadian churches of other denominations facing the same issues as our congregation with regard to getting licence/permission to show DVDs or videos in church?


Most DVDs or videos that we purchase at stores are sold for viewing by an “at home” audience of a few people.  If you were to purchase the same item for viewing by large audiences, it would probably cost ten times as much because of the royalty paid to the copyright owner.  It is possible for organizations or groups to make arrangements with the copyright owners for a royalty to be paid to them so that the “at home” video or DVD may be shown to a larger audience in a church or school.  It is also possible for a company or group to make arrangements with the copyright holders for royalties to be paid to them in exchange for the company to sell annual licences granting permission for larger groups to view the “at home” video or DVD.


Two of the companies that are listed by the Copyright Board of Canada are ACF Inc and CVLI.  An annual licence from ACF Inc costs about three times the price of an annual licence from CVLI.  Neither company indicates how much of their annual fee actually gets forwarded to the copyright holders but at least CVLI is accredited by the Better Business Bureau!  Recent letters and e-mails from ACF Inc are indicating that CVLI licences are not valid in Canada – even though CVLI is listed as a valid operator in Canada!  It makes me wonder whether ACF Inc is getting into a bit of a high pressure scam that is aimed at collecting lots of large annual fees from Canadian churches and they do not indicate how much of that fee actually gets to the copyright holder!


Is it time for Canadian churches to set up a non-profit video licensing society?  Is there a lawyer that can give practical advice on setting up this kind of group?


John Duifhuis, Clerk                  Duncan Christian Reformed Church

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I'm not currently serving in Canada but have in the past. If ACF Inc (I had not heard of them before reading your post) is saying that CVLI is not valid in Canada, I would seriously question them. Here is a link to CVLI's  Canadian page.  I would suggest that ACF is trying to 'shakedown' Canadian churches into paying more because they are a "Canadian" company versus CVLI that is setup and operates in all of North America (and around the world for that matter). 

That said, check the specifics of each licenser. See if there is overlap in what studios they cover and if that makes a difference in which one you would choose.