Wedding and funeral services often include a variety of copyrighted content. The good news is, with a little planning, copyright needn’t be a concern.
The information in this article covers the common elements of a wedding or funeral service where copyright needs to be considered. If in doubt, CCLI always recommends you contact us for further guidance, or seek direct permission from the owner of any works you wish to use.
Orders of Service
When an order of service is prepared, the church is responsible for ensuring copyright permission has been obtained and full acknowledgements included where appropriate, even if the design and printing of the sheets have been arranged by the family concerned.
It is important to be aware of the copyright implications for each element that is included. For example:
- Hymns and music
There are normally copyright implications whenever you reproduce the words and/or music of hymns or worship songs. The CCLI Church Copyright Licence (CCL), which is held by many churches in the UK, is the most convenient way of obtaining permission to reproduce most hymns and songs. No permission is needed for hymns which are in the Public Domain. Details of the copyright owners of each song or hymn should be given beneath the words, including the author, the publisher, and your CCLI licence number.
For example: Fred Smiley © 2000 Happy Music Ltd, CCLI Licence No: 12345
Songs used during weddings/funeral services should be reported. Find further information on reporting here. Some Roman Catholic publishers are not covered by CCLI, but may be covered by OneLicense.
- Scripture text and liturgy
The use of images in any documentation, including service sheets, will require you to have obtained prior permission from the copyright owner. This includes images and photographs found on the internet, and those copied from a printed publication. Websites such as Creative Commons provide free images that can be used for non-commercial purposes, provided the correct acknowledgement is given. Some clip art may be free to use in non-commercial situations. If in doubt, always check the copyright owner’s terms, or contact them for permission, before reproducing their images.
Playing music live or from commercial music recordings
Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) and PRS for Music have both waived the requirement for music performance licences during weddings and funerals. This means both live music and music recordings can be freely played during these services, as long as the service is not being recorded or streamed over the internet…
Recording church weddings and funerals
If the service is recorded, whether by a family member or a professional videographer, any live music performances or commercial music recordings captured (or dubbed on afterwards in post-production) will require permission. The Limited Manufacture Licence from PRS for Music is the best way to obtain this.
Streaming church weddings and funerals
If your church makes wedding or funeral services available over the internet (to stream or download) you should remember that a number of components will be involved, including live and/or recorded music, the liturgy, the sermon, any readings or dramatic performances etc. Each of these elements is covered by copyright, so before a service is made available over the internet, care should be taken to ensure that each element has been cleared for distribution by the appropriate copyright owner. In addition, permission must be sought from all musicians, readers, prayers and preachers before you record or broadcast their performance.
Streaming of church services that include worship music played live can be covered by the CCLI Streaming Licence. If you are streaming or webcasting services during which worship recordings (artist tracks, backing tracks or multitracks) are played, these can also be covered by the CCLI Streaming Plus Licence. If you wish to include other music recordings in the stream, CCLI recommends contacting PRS for Music or the copyright owners directly for permission to include them.
If the church doesn’t hold a streaming licence, or the wedding party or family wish to make the service available online themselves, they must take responsibility for obtaining the appropriate permissions. CCLI recommends that they contact PRS for Music directly to discuss their options.