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Churches are constantly navigating the copyright maze when they use music, other print resources, and videos. Each medium has slightly different laws regulating it. Here is some information to help you. If this still doesn’t answer your question, contact the publisher directly. The publisher’s contact information is usually on their website.

For hymnals or books that Faith Alive (formerly CRC Publications) has published, e-mail [email protected]. We’re happy to answer your questions.

1. Music Copyright Information

To assist you in the area of music copyrights, here are 3 simple steps:

  1. If your church has a CCLI license, check with them to see if your song is covered. Go to the CCLI website at –scroll down on the right hand side of the page to Support Center >Song Search. If your church has a license you can also check One License at by doing a song search or check the ‘Current Member Publishers” list. Another church licensing organization that you can belong to for music use is Licensingonline, If you still can’t find it – go to #2.
  2. You will need to contact the copyright holder directly. Their contact information is in the back of the hymnal in the copyright holder’s index or on the bottom of the printed page of music.
  3. It is important to put the correct copyright/licensing information on each song/slide, etc. *See the examples below for correct formatting and needed information*.

*Here are two examples of correct credit lines:

(for song sheets or print handouts – usually you would place this under the song lyrics)

Words and music by John Doe
© 2000 Good Music Co.
CCLI License #______________ [or One License #____________]

(for power point or electronic projection)

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Let heaven and earth sing Hallelujah
Glory to the Risen King, Hallelujah

Words and Music by John Doe
© 2000 Good Music Co
CCLI License #____________ [or One License #_______________]

NOTE: The correct credits and License # must appear at least ONCE per song somewhere on the page or slide (top or bottom).

Hymnal clarification:

Hymnals are published by publishing companies, (i.e., Faith Alive Christian Resources, Hope Publishing, etc.), but that does not mean that all of the songs are owned by that company. Each song is a separate entity and is owned as such.

You must consult the information at the bottom of each song for ownership details. The information behind the copyright symbol © will tell you who you need to contact for permission.

Here is a quick list of what you can and cannot do from the CCLI website:

What You Can Do (What the License covers)

  • Print songs, hymns and lyrics in bulletins, programs, liturgies and song sheets for use in congregational singing.
  • Create your own customized songbooks or hymnals for use in congregational singing.
  • Create overhead transparencies, slides, or use any other format whereby songs are visually projected (such as computer graphics and projection) for use in congregational singing.
  • Arrange, print and copy your own vocal or instrumental arrangements of songs for congregational use, where no published version is available.
  • Record your worship services by audio or video means provided you only record "live" music (instrumental and vocal). Accompaniment tracks cannot be reproduced. You may also charge up to $4.00 (U.S.) / $5.00 (CAN) each for audio tapes and CDs, and $12.00 (U.S.) / $15.00 (CAN) each for video tapes and DVDs.

The quantity of recorded copies allowed per service cannot exceed 15% of the maximum number of your church size category.

What You Cannot Do (What the License does not cover)

  • Photocopy or duplicate octavos, cantatas, musicals, hand bell music, keyboard arrangements, vocal scores, orchestrations or other instrumental works.
  • Translate songs from one language to another. This can only be done with the approval of the respective copyright owner.
  • Rent, sell, lend, or distribute copies made under the Church Copyright License to individuals or groups outside the church, or to other churches. However, you may distribute tapes to shut-ins, missionaries, or others outside the church.
  • Assign or transfer the Church Copyright License to any other church or group without CCLI's approval.

*There are 50 TOP FAQ’s answered at It’s an excellent source of up-to-date information.

In Review:

These guidelines make music available for us to use – but we need to follow them correctly. Remember that this is only for those songs covered by these licenses. There will be music that is public domain (P.D.) – you can use this any time. There will also be music that is copyrighted and not covered by these licenses that you may not use unless you contact the copyright holder. (See #2)

2. Print Copyright Information

This refers to anything that has been printed in a publication, whether a book, magazine or pamphlet. Generally speaking, it’s best to refer to the publisher’s guidelines as they will have them published on their website. This will give you the best specific information. Here are some general guidelines from Zondervan’s website.

What comes under the term Fair Use?

A permission request is not required by Zondervan if you're quoting or reproducing less than 300 words from any Zondervan publication for one-time non-commercial use, such as use within your church or for personal/individual use. If your request falls within these guidelines, the following copyright notice must accompany all reprints: “Taken from (Name of Book) by (Author). Copyright © (Date) by (Copyright Holder). Used by permission of Zondervan,”

How much of a book can I re-print? (with permission and payment to publisher?)

Zondervan will not allow any more than 10% of any in-print book to be copied or reprinted in any way. Permission from Zondervan is required to copy material up to that amount. Requests that exceed this amount will not be granted.

What if a book is out of print?

You may be able to find out-of-print books in a local bargain or used bookstore. There are also Internet sites that will search for out-of-print books, such as
Note: if you can’t find an out-of-print product, always consult the publisher. They may charge a content fee or give gratis permission for you to make copies.

3. Video Copyright Information

For information about using videos and DVD’s or parts thereof, contact Christian Video Licensing International (, or Audio Cine Films, Inc (Canada)(

A video copyright license is absolutely essential even if:

  • Films are shown freely, for educational purposes or to small groups
  • Films are shown partially during sermons.
  • Films are obtained from private collections, purchased, leased or brought in by members.

Note: Audio Cine Films, Inc, in Canada has exclusive rights to many studios and films. Licenses obtained from other vendors in the United States may be invalid in Canada for some studios and films.

Generally, a video or public performance VHS/DVD Copyright License allows a church to:

  • Use films to illustrate points in sermons
  • Show movies for youth groups and daycare
  • Use clips or movies for Sunday School groups, camps, retreats and conferences
  • Show movies for after school programs.

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