Special Topics, General Worship
Copyright for Movie Clips in Sermons?
June 19, 2018
2 comments 1962 views
This summer our church would like to do a summer series that includes video clips from some popular movies as sermon illustrations. I'm trying to do due diligence in making sure we have the right copyright license in place to play the clips, but finding the process to be quite complicated. I looked into the CVLI license as that sounded perfect for what we wanted to do, but was disappointed to find that in Canada they do not cover many of the major producers.
Have you incorporated clips from movies into your services in the past? How did that work with copyright?
As a secondary related question, we record our sermons on video and post on YouTube. I'd love to be able to include the movie clips not only in the main service, but also in the YouTube recording... do you know if there might be a license out there that would allow us to do that?
Being able to use the video clip illustrations will add a lot to the service so I'm hopeful we can find a way to make it work!
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I recently did some research on this topic. According to the Digital Media Law Project website (2014), copyrighted works such as music and movies may be performed or displayed without permission in the course of face-to-face teaching. I think a sermon would qualify.
There is also a copyright principle called "fair use". Fair Use is a complicated and confusing term that provides an exception to copyright restrictions. It is defined as brief excerpts of copyright material that are quoted for purposes such as news reporting, teaching, and research. Under the principle of fair use, there is no need for permission from or payment to the copyright holder but attribution to the owner must be cited.
Be cautious about using video sharing sites like YouTube. According to Google’s terms of service, you are permitted to view YouTube video only through Google's own website. The most ethical way to use YouTube videos is to embed a link into your power point. The problem with that is the links can be unstable based on the quality of your internet provider, and they include commercials. Read the rules for the site you are using.
Existing copyright law has many gray areas that do not take new technologies into account. These laws even vary from country to country based on where the media was first registered or produced. If in the doubt, the safest thing is to document the steps taken to establish ownership, or determine if the media falls under the 'fair use' policy. That way if permission is questioned, a goodwill effort can be shown.
Thank you for your response. As the "God in Film" sermon series is getting popular, the legality of showing clips is getting very important, and I've been doing quite a bit of research on this. Regarding this part of your response:
"According to the Digital Media Law Project website (2014), copyrighted works such as music and movies may be performed or displayed without permission in the course of face-to-face teaching. I think a sermon would qualify."
I know it's been a year, but I went to the DMLP website, but could not find where it said that, which is almost a perfect reply to our unique needs... could you possibly find the link/page that you are referencing, so I can show that to our senior staff?
Thank you for your help with this, blessings on your ministry,
Operations Coordinator, Palo Alto Vineyard Church
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