Copyright and Licensing Workshop

20 April, 2021


What is it?                       

A Law to protect the Intellectual Property rights of authors and other creators of writing, music, art, video etc.

Why is it necessary?

  • To protect the interests of the creators, including their financial interests


  • to prevent changes being made to their property which they may not agree with or may find offensive.

Does it affect Congregations?

Yes, mostly around Music and Lyrics (words to songs) in Worship services and video. Typical examples of potential copyright infringement where no licences are held include:

  • lyrics reprinted in the Order of Service
  • lyrics photocopied for song sheets
  • words displayed up on a screen
  • video clip played during a service eg from YouTube
  • service broadcast on-line: live or pre-recorded
  • home-made videos which include all or part of someone else’s material eg downloaded song (even a short snippet)

What if we don’t comply?

There are severe penalties for copyright infringement in Australia.

Is all material subject to Copyright?

Unless you have composed the work yourself, or it is in the Public Domain, all material is subject to copyright.

Public Domain

In Australia, 70 years after the death of the author, the copyright expires and the material then enters the Public Domain. 

We have sung Hymns and Songs for years, why is it different?

We used to sing from hymns books, now we project the words onto a screen.

When hymn books or sheet music is purchased, the authors are appropriately recompensed.  The use of originals eg by singing from hymn books or playing music from song books has already been paid for.  Photocopying the music or words or projecting them onto a screen, however, is a copyright infringement.   

What do we need to do to Comply?

There 3 things you need to do:

  1. Purchase the appropriate licence(s).
  2. Display your licence number with each song or publication
  3. Report your usage

1.    Purchasing a Licence

Where can we get a Licence?

The most common ones are:

  • CCLI
  • OneLicense

Each of these covers a different range of songs for printing and projecting.

What does a Licence cover?


The OneLicense website explains to the licence holder:

You can reproduce the words (lyrics) and music (melody) used by a congregation or organization in a religious service for songs owned or administered by OL Member Publishers. Reproduction may be in the form of a bulletin, program, worship aid, order of service, song sheet, songbook, transparency, or via an electronic storage and retrieval system for the projection of words or music or both.

Reproductions may not be permanently bound into a worship aid that is sold, published, or shared with other congregations….”[1]


The CCLI website explains to the licence holder:

“Our licences enable you to reproduce creative works in many forms; be it digital, print or recorded content available from more than 3,000 publishers and song owners.   CCLI’s licences permit the fair and legal use, reproduction and distribution of content and media – to include within printed bulletins, to copy and share, or project onto a big screen.   The law is clear on copyright.  Now you’ll know your church is covered.”[2]

How do we decide which is right for our church?

By Song

The songs which are popular in your church services will be a major factor.

Each licensing organisation works with publishers of music and offer licences for you to use their work.

You need to do some research to help decide which is right for your Congregation.

To start, go to the websites to see which songs each covers:


OneLicense covers most TIS songs.

By purchasing both CCLI and OneLicense licences, you will cover most songs which are currently popular in our Congregations.

By Medium

Most Congregations need to have licences to cover three main areas:

  1. Printing or projecting words and music
  2. Broadcasting services eg live-streaming, webcasts etc
  • Showing video[3]
    1. video clips during the service
    2. full length movies

Some Congregations will also need Public Performance to cover Carol singing etc.

Simplified Summary






Printing or projecting

Church Copyright Licence

Annual Reprint Licence


Broadcasting services online


Podcast / Streaming License

i& ii

Combined print and web


Podcast / Streaming License Bundle



Church Video Licence



Performing in public

Public Performance Licence


Bulk Discounts!

Each Congregation needs to have their own licences that are site specific, however…

We are looking into bulk discounts for

  • CCLI


  • OneLicense

What other factors apply?

The type of licence will depend on

  • your average weekly attendance
  • the period of time eg
    • year
    • week
    • single event eg wedding, funeral

2.    Using Your Licence Number

Each licensing body will give you a phrase to quote when reproducing the words in print or display, which will include your licence number. Most people choose to put this at the end of the last verse. Eg for the words to songs covered by CCLI you would display:

[author], © [year, owner], [your licence number]

e.g. Fred Smiley, © 2007 Happy Music Ltd., CCL No, 123456


And for anything covered by OneLicense, you would use:


Words: John Doe, © 1988 ABC Music Co.; Music: Jane Doe, © 1990 XYZ Publications. Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE #A-xxxxxxx. All rights reserved.


3.    Reporting

You need to report when and how often you have used each song. Reporting requirements differ, but it is best to do this weekly or at least monthly. This is done on-line. When you purchase a licence, you will be given a login to the appropriate website where you can report your usage.

Check carefully your responsibilities regarding reporting.

Hints, Tips and Trips

  • The websites of the licensing bodies have a lot of useful information, FAQs and tutorials
  • When identifying a specific song, note that the Words and Music may have different licensing arrangements
  • When identifying a specific song, be careful to check which version you are using
  • No need to report on material in the Public Domain
  • Develop a database of songs that your church regularly uses with the Licensing details included for re-use


Most Congregations need to have licences to cover three main areas:

  1. Printing or projecting words and music
  2. Broadcasting services eg live-streaming, webcasts etc
  • Showing video
    1. video clips during the service
    2. full length movies

To avoid infringement Congregations must:

  1. Purchase the appropriate licence(s).
  2. Display your licence number with each song or publication
  3. Report your usage

Most Congregations purchase licences from CCLI and OneLicense.


  • Is it necessary to have a licence for Together In Song (TIS) songs, as most of these are old hymns?
    • There are some not yet in the public domain because many composers are still alive today or recently deceased. OneLicense covers most TIS songs.
  • What do we need to do when we use Prayers or poems that someone else has composed?
    • We should acknowledge the source and author if possible to give credit where due. Check with the individual sources to discover the wishes of the creator of the resource eg Bruce Prewer deals with copyright issues at
  • If we use an iSing subscription, do we still need to report usage?
    • Please see the User Guide on how to report your usage to CCLI.[4]
  • How do we know if a You Tube video clip requires a licence to be used in a Worship Service?
    • This is a difficult area. An article to help you has been written for the CCLI website.[5] See the Synod website for how to navigate this space.
  • Can we get in-depth information on how to understand our obligations with regard to all video, images etc?
    • The Synod has recently published a comprehensive guide on this, see below.

Useful Resources

  • Synod has recently placed a very comprehensive set of resources covering the diverse range of copyright issues on their website. This will be promoted in the next week or two. It covers:
    • NSW Copyright for churches
    • movie licences
    • Playing CDs in church
    • “Creative Common” licence – what this is and information on how this can help
    • holding events and camps
    • broadcasting on-line


Synod is keen to get feedback on how useful this site is.  Please send your feedback to