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Copyright Info

Your church may be violating copyright law, which carries with it serious financial consequences.   To ensure that you are complying with copyright laws you may wish to bookmark the following websites and check them frequently if you have questions regarding music or video copyright.  |

You may also wish to visit the United Methodist Communications website at For information on CVLI licenses, you may call the RMC manager at 1-800-755-7710.

For an illustration of how important it is to be aware of copyright laws, read the following excerpt from an article by a staff member of the General Board of Discipleship.

FROM: Dean McIntyre, 
Director of Music Resources, GBOD, The General Board of Discipleship, Nashville

I teach classes on copyright and licensing for church musicians and pastors at conferences such as the National Convocation of The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts. Invariably I am asked about copyright laws. The question usually goes something like this: “Are they enforcing these laws? Is anyone being caught and going to jail?”

The answer to both questions is “Yes.” An Associated Press release in the August 2007 Nashville newspaper, The Tennessean, (p.2E) reports that local authorities arrested a man who copied hundreds of CDs and DVDs and was selling them from the trunk of his car. He was sentenced in Federal Court to 10 months in prison for copyright violation. At the time of his arrest, authorities found more than 500 copied recordings and films in his car, along with recording equipment powered by his car battery, blank CDs and DVDs, some of which were still being shown in theaters, plus $11,000 worth of illegally recorded CDs and DVDs and $10,000 in cash. The copies will be destroyed and the cash paid to the victim industries as restitution.

The U.S. Attorney said, “Violations of intellectual property crimes and copyright laws such as this occupy a high priority with both the Department of Justice and this U.S. Attorney’s office in particular….”

What does this mean for local churches? It means that if you are doing any of the following without the proper permissions or licenses, you’re in danger:

  • Showing videos at your church youth group, child care, camps, retreats, or Sunday Schools, even if those videos are legally rented or purchased.
  • Showing film clips in worship as sermon illustrations.
  • Video recording your worship services, choir concerts, children’s musicals, or anything else that contains copyrighted music.
  • Making audio recordings of services, concerts, musicals, or anything else that contains copyrighted music.
  • Making copies of original recordings of choir or solo music, accompaniment tracks, or by original artists, and giving or selling them to your choir members so that they can practice the music or learn their parts outside of rehearsal.
  • Selling or giving away audio or visual recordings containing copyrighted music, including to performers, parents, members, or shut-ins.
  • Making or allowing the making of audio or video recordings of weddings or funerals in your church that contain copyrighted music.
  • Radio broadcasting or TV telecasting, live or pre-recorded, of worship services containing copyrighted music.

Through an agreement with over 50 producers, Church Video Licensing International (CVLI) provides legal coverage for churches to show home videocassettes and videodiscs of motion pictures for a variety of church activities. CVLI provides cost effective ways for the church to receive permission, protecting itself from the possibility of being fined for illegal use of videocassettes and videodiscs. These may include showing a full-length feature using the original video or even playing a 30-second portion of that original video.

For information on CVLI licenses, you may call the RMC manager at 1-800-755-7710.