Copyright in the Church

By Stephen M. Newman
Founder, & Author of Experiencing Worship
April 24, 2010

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Video and Music - The do's and don'ts

Over the past weeks I have run into some questions about copyright in the area of music and video. The questions were simple and easy to understand and answer, and yet, I am finding that more and more churches, even though they have a CCLI and CVLI license, are uninformed of what they can and cannot do.

Below I've listed some of the basic do's and don'ts in the music and video area. Here I want to address specifically video.

There are many seeker churches that put together some great video using clips from movies, music videos and television to promote various ministries within the church. They make for some great and creative promo pieces. I have seen some awesome work from very talented people.

The question came up in my own church concerning the use of these videos on a website. I thought I would check into it before I gave the okay. What I found out was not only can you not show these videos on a website, you cannot show them anywhere at anytime without written permission from each movie studio or music company. The only way you are allowed to use video in the church is from its original format. For example, if I want to show a clip from "Air Force One", I have to show it from the original DVD or VHS from the motion picture company. I cannot edit it to another disk and show it. I cannot put together a variety of clips from one or more movies and put it on another disk or tape to show. I cannot in any way edit the original for any use without written permission.

I know there are many churches unknowingly and knowingly breaking this law. Our intent is to inform you of what these laws are and how it may affect your ministry. If you are caught doing this, it could be the end of your ministry...not to mention the bad taste it will leave in the mouthes of the many non-believers who already look down on us for abusing these laws.

If you have found anything that will help us better understand this law or how we can go about legally using video in the church, please let us know through the Add Your Opinion link on this page. We want to hear your opinions and concerns. If there is a legal way to use editted video in the church, we want to know about it.

For further info on this article CLICK HERE

For more information on what can and cannot be done, you may visit

Stephen M. Newman
Founder, & Author of Experiencing Worship
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