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Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI) was originally established in 1988 to provide a copyright solution for churches wanting to reproduce the words of hymns and worship songs as overhead projectors and photocopiers began to replace hymnbooks.

As churches began to adopt new technology into their activities, CCLI responded to their needs with copyright licences to show films, play or perform music, record services, photocopy from authorised publications and to legally download song lyrics and music from the internet.

CCLI became aware that other organisations needed permission from the copyright owners for their activities and were able to offer licences to schools, events, Christian bookshops and many others.

Today CCLI administers over 165,000 licences in Europe and 515,000 worldwide.

We’re able to offer practical advice and support through the maze of copyright. With systems in place to ensure that copyright owners are fairly rewarded for their work, CCLI has become highly respected among the copyright organisations around today.

CCLI licences are available in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Faroe Islands, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Luxemburg, New Zealand, The Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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The History of CCLI

The Church Copyright Licence was born in the music department of a large church called Bible Temple in Portland, Oregon, USA. It began in 1984 when the pastor first became aware of the Copyright Law and a pending $3.1 million lawsuit against the Archdiocese in Chicago. He asked his music minister, Howard Rachinski, to see what could be done about the copyright crisis. In January 1985, Howard began to develop a “permission of use” concept, whereby churches could obtain blanket permission for specific copying activities, which he labelled “non-commercial.” It was called Starpraise Ministries and was to be CCLI’s predecessor.

By the end of the first year, 250 churches had become licence holders and that number rose quickly to 1150 churches by the end of year two. It became obvious that the need for a church copyright licence affected more than just a few churches and publishers.

Developing a Business Model

During August 1987, Starpraise Ministries became aware of an organisation in the UK called the Christian Music Association (CMA), founded by Geoff Shearn, which had developed a licensing model that was able to include a broad representation of publishers to more than 2,000 churches. In that September, Starpraise Ministries and CMA met and several issues were agreed upon:

With the encouragement of the British CMA, Starpraise Ministries began the contractual and organisational formation of the Church Copyright Licence.

In January 1988, Starpraise Ministries was incorporated and in April the corporation name was changed to Christian Copyright Licensing, Inc. The Church Music Publishers Association (CMPA) in the U.S.A. appointed an ad-hoc committee to meet with CCLI, leading to the endorsement by the CMPA of CCLI.

From Humble Launch to Worldwide Impact

On October 1, 1988, with representation of 120 publishers, the Church Copyright Licence was launched. After one year, more than 9,500 churches had access to more than 200 publisher catalogues. In April 1990, CCLI expanded its operation to cover churches in Canada. After two years of operation more than 23,000 churches were utilising the Church Copyright Licence. On July 1, 1991, Christian Copyright Licensing Ltd. assumed the British CMA operation and began servicing more than 7,200 church licence holders in the UK and in 1994 this expanded to serve UK schools for their daily act of Collective Worship. On April 1, 1993, CCLI started its licensing program in Asia-Pacific, initially covering Australia and New Zealand. In June 1995, the licence was made available to cover churches in South Africa. On September 1, 1997, CCLI began offering the Photocopy Licence for the first time in Australia and New Zealand to provide a way for songs (including the music) to be legally photocopied. On February 1, 1998, CCLI expanded into non-English speaking countries with the launch of the Church Copyright Licence in the Nordic Countries.

On April 1, 1998 after four years of research and discussion with copyright owners the Music Reproduction Licence was offered for the first time to provide UK licence holders a way to photocopy musical compositions intended for congregational participation.

The Church Copyright Licence is now available in Benelux, the Nordic countries and GSA.

CCLI now serves more than 240,000 churches worldwide, as well as thousands of schools and Christian organisations. It was founded as a ministry of the Church and a service to the Church, to educate the Church about copyright laws, to protect the Church from the consequences of copyright infringements and to encourage greater utilisation of copyrights in Church services.