Webcasting services provide churches a viable means to broadcast their services and sermons online for a wider audience, and churches around the world have already begun to channelize the power of live streaming church service.
With a broader audience network, however, comes the dangers of violating the copyright law.
Churches too, like other private quota companies, are bound by the copyright infringement law in the digital realm, that prohibits them from using copyrighted material, either audio, video, or any other form of media.
Although there are fewer copyright issues involved in church live streaming, with growing demand for webcast online church services, churches must take care not to infringe copyright laws.
Here we break down four ways in which copyright infringement in live streaming church service or Facebook live for church services can take place:
Webcasting Copyrighted Songs
Church live streaming makes use of copyrighted songs in a multitude of ways, and the copyright issues of each song must be addressed.
Performing Copyrighted Songs
The most common way in which churches make use of copyrighted songs, is through performance of the song by a church choir. In order to broadcast church services live with the song performance, churches must acquire an Internet performance license from song owners and their agents.
Christian Copyright Solutions(CCS) provides a one-stop annual Internet performance license for churches and ministries called WORSHIPcast, that allows churches to broadcast live church service online their performance of every song licensed by ASCAP, BMI, & SESAC, with a collection of more than 17 million Christian & religious songs.
In addition, CCLI also offers a church streaming/podcasting license which allows churches to broadcast church services of their performances of about 300,000 Christian songs, with an annual fee that is calculated based on the size of the church congregation.
Although it is a common practice to put song lyrics online during performance by choirs and even though CCLI licenses churches to make copies of the lyrics, it doesn’t include a license for webcasting these lyrics.
Permission is often required from song owners for the live broadcast of their lyrics, scenario churches generally avoid by leaving out the lyrics frame from their Facebook live for church services.
Also Read: How to Live Webcast Church Service?
Churches often use various soundtracks during live streaming church service, and this may lead to copyright snarls.
Permission is needed for live broadcasting of these tracks, provided by the recording label.
SoundExchange, an independent Non-Profit performance rights organization, provides digital usage license for a variety of soundtracks.
However, acquiring licenses can be difficult, especially for a weekly service. Hence, churches are recommended not to use copyrighted soundtracks to avoid getting into any copyright troubles.
Broadcasting Copyrighted Images
Churches make use of images to highlight a point or provide illustrations during a sermon; however, it is important to get permission to make use of any copyrighted image.
To avoid any copyright issues, it is better for churches to use royalty free stock images in their church live streaming.
Webcasting Copyrighted Video
Video animations and snippets are often a common sight during church sessions, and although CVLI allows churches to play or perform these videos, the license doesn’t include broadcasting permission.
The permission can take a lot of time and is generally not feasible, hence it is advisable for churches to not use these videos as part of live church service online, and instead stick to royalty-free animations or acquire license from Christian Media companies like Igniter Media, SermonSpice, etc. to live webcast some copyrighted videos.
Broadcasting Literary Material
Sermons, poems, books and essays all fall under the category of literary material. Permission is often needed for broadcasting these works. If the church owns the material, there is obviously no need for it, but if not, then a simple letter of permission from the pastor should be obtained before churches include these in their broadcast church services.
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