Recently, I was asked to speak to a group of Music Ministers at a Musicians’ workshop. As I began to speak about the need to have a copyright license to reprint the lyrics to songs on a worship aide, suddenly the room became awkwardly silent. To my surprise, many musicians did not know about the need for licenses.
Maybe you are one of those musicians, just finding this out for the first time. If so, relax and let me answer some common questions about Copyright licenses. Music publishers offer what is called a Reprint License, which can be purchased from each publisher to legally gain the ability to reprint lyrics on a worship aide or project them through a computer and projection system. Your parish may already pay for this license. When seeking to reprint lyrics, first ask your Director of Music or Liturgy, or whoever handles the Music Budget at your parish, if you already posses this license and if so, for which companies.
Most of the music recommended in the Life Teen Liturgy Planning Guide comes from comes from Oregon Catholic Press (OCP & SpiritandSong.com), GIA Publications, World Library Publications (WLP) and CCLI (Christian Copyright Licensing International). You can contact these publishers to obtain a reprint license and it is very simple to obtain. The CCLI license contains hundreds of publishing companies within its license. This is the major copyright holder for most Praise & Worship music (i.e. Chris Tomlin. Matt Redman, David Crowder, and many others). While GIA, OCP and WLP all have a standard annual fee for their license; the CCLI fee is based upon how many members are estimated to be at the service you are using the license for. So, if you are only using this license for your youth Mass, it will cost less money than if you use the license for your all the weekend Masses. Here are the websites where you can obtain contact with these publishers.
- OCP: www.ocp.org or www.spiritandsong.com
- GIA: www.giamusic.com
- WLP: www.wlpmusic.com
- CCLI: www.ccli.com
The other permission that is sometimes overlooked is called a Mechanical License. This type of license needs to be obtained from the publisher when a copyrighted song is being recorded. It makes no difference if the recording is being sold or given out for free or streamed on a web site. It is still copyrighted material and a mechanical license must be obtained. Any further questions you may have in regards to these licenses or obtaining them can be answered by contacting the publisher of that particular song.
Just so there is no confusion, to simply sing a copyrighted song at any Mass, XLT, prayer service or Life Night is free, but the reprinting of lyrics or re-recording is illegal unless the proper license is obtained. The artists that write the music are paid for their art with money obtained from these licenses, just as an artist who paints a picture is paid for it when someone buys it. It is fair and just to compensate them for their work. Let’s all do our part in following the law of the land by obtaining the proper licenses when using copyrighted material so we can truly say it is All rights reserved and used with permission.