Copyright Concerns

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Planning Center does not include any form of copyright licensing and is not responsible for any misuse on your part. Sharing audio, charts, or lyrics that you do not have the licenses for is illegal, even if you don't allow downloading. If you do own all the copyrights to a song, such as a song you have written, or you have obtained the licenses to distribute them electronically, you are free to do so.

Check out the most common solutions churches use to obtain licenses to use copyrighted material.

Sharing Printed Music

  • The Church Copyright License from CCLI covers copying activities that assist with congregational singing, including computer projections, songsheets, bulletin inserts, recording your service, and more. It does not, however, include sharing audio files recorded by someone else and sharing published chord charts or sheet music. To legally share published chord charts or sheet music, you need a separate license.
  • SongSelect by CCLI provides transposable chord sheets, lead sheets, and vocal sheets, plus lyrics and audio samples for top CCLI songs. SongSelect is an annual subscription with different tiers which provides different types of files. The SongSelect Integration makes it easy to import files included in your SongSelect subscription.
  • PraiseCharts provides many types of files for print and audio. Purchase each file separately, and many print files allow you to share that file with five people before you need to buy more licenses. The PraiseCharts Integration makes it easy to import files purchased from PraiseCharts.
  • Upload any file to Services, even if it's not from SongSelect or PraiseCharts, but check with the music provider to see how many licenses are included with the file and then use the File License Tracking to keep track of those licenses.

Contact Christian Copyright Solutions for more information about other copyrights or for help in obtaining licenses for songs that aren't covered by CCLI.

Sharing Audio

  • The Church Rehearsal License by CCLI allows you to legally copy commercial audio recordings and/or share audio files via email, flash drives, or on worship planning websites.
  • PraiseCharts provides many types of files for print and audio. Purchase each file separately, and many audio files allow you to share that file with five people before you need to buy more licenses. The PraiseCharts Integration makes it easy to import files you purchase from PraiseCharts.
  • Link directly to the song on iTunes or AmazonMP3, and let your users download the song.
  • Link to files on music streaming services such as Spotify, YouTube, or Vimeo.
  • RehearsalMix has the original audio recordings from many worship songs and provides different mixes for each instrument that played on that song. Purchase credits ahead of time, and each time a new person listens to a mix, a credit is deducted.

Contact Christian Copyright Solutions for more information about other copyrights or for help in obtaining licenses for songs that aren't covered by CCLI.

Services allows you to track the licenses that you've purchased for copyrighted files.

Performance Licensing

There is a religious service exemption in U.S. copyright law that allows churches to perform copyrighted music during religious services without paying royalties. The exemption does not cover any music played or performed outside of worship services. If your church is playing or performing copyrighted music outside of your religious services, you need a church performance license.

Music performance rights represent a fairly simple concept, but one that is often misunderstood. Part of the confusion may come from the fact that “public performance” is just one of six exclusive rights controlled by a song owner. For example, the performance right is different than the right to copy or reproduce a song on your own recording, and the required licenses for these two rights are quite different.

Here’s a brief definitions to help lay the groundwork for understanding performance licensing. First, the legal definition of a public performance is:

An instance of music being performed “in a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered.”

A performance license grants permission to have these public performances, whether it is a live performance or playing of pre-recorded music.

Christian Copright Solutions partners with ASCAP, BMI and SESAC (U.S. performance rights organizations) to provide churches with a one-stop performance license: WORSHIPcast Streaming License (online websites) and PERFORMmusic Premise License (onsite facilities) with comprehensive coverage for 20 million songs, Christian, holiday and secular music.

Summary Please?

Almosts all churches need Church Copyright License from CCLI, even if just to show lyrics to your congregation.

If you want to share audio with your team for rehearsal purposes, you probably need The Church Rehearsal License by CCLI.

Print music is more complicated. SongSelect by CCLI is a subscription with tons of songs, but there is only one master version of each song. PraiseCharts' songs have different arrangements of each song, but you purchase each file separately. You can choose the best option for you, or you can even use them both.

If you play copyrighted audio publicly, or perform music anywhere outside of worship services, you probably need the PERFORMmusic Premise License from CCS.

If you want to stream music from your service on the internet, you probably need the WORSHIPcast Streaming License from CCS.

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