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 Copyright Q&A for September 2013

Copyright Q&A for September 2013

By Christian Copyright Solutions on September 19, 2013

Here is  a question we received for our monthly Copyright Q&A feature. Answers are provided by Christian Copyright Solutions. Feel free to submit your questions to us. We answer as many as we can here on our site once a month.

Q: Can we play any YouTube videos during our Sunday morning worship?

A: It is possible to legally display videos from YouTube in your worship services, but there are many areas where the risk of copyright infringement may be very high.

Because of the nature of YouTube's End User License Agreement (EULA), there is no reliable way of determining whether the posted material on YouTube by users is being used legally. The EULA absolves YouTube of the legal liability of all content uploaded by their users in User Generated Content (UGC) by only allowing people willing to assume legal responsibility for their own content to become users of their website. What this means is that you have no way of knowing if that user has obtained legal permission to post content containing copyrighted material on YouTube. Thus you run the risk of infringement by showing that material in a public venue. If you are able to determine that there is no copyrighted material in the YouTube video, then there may not be infringement. In some cases, you may want to obtain legal advice regarding the specific video you want to show.

In another scenario, perhaps you have your own YouTube account with videos of your church activities played along with a few favorite worship tunes. In order to reproduce music on your videos and post it to YouTube, you will need what is called a synchronization license which can be obtained from publishers directly or through services such as PERMISSIONSplus by CCS. The Religious Service Exemption in US copyright law does allow for the public performance of copyrighted music without requiring permission or payment of royalties, which could include the music played in a video within the context of a regular recurring service at a place of worship. The exemption does not cover playing a copyrighted audiovisual work like a video. The CVLI license grants churches permission to show or play many videos created by film producers, but the license does not typically cover YouTube user generated videos. If you wish to play the music from videos outside of a worship service at a place of worship, you will need performance licensing through a license from ASCAP, BMI and SESAC or the one-stop PERFORMmusic by CCS.

Maybe your church is using the YouTube videos from the church's account that have been licensed properly, and the video was created by a staff member giving the church written permission to use his or her work. You may want to include the video in a streamed online service because it is an integral part of the worship service, you will need an internet performance license from ASCAP, BMI and SESAC or you can use the one-stop WORSHIPcast blanket license that covers the live and archived online streaming of over 17 million songs. This license also covers posting worship service performances to your YouTube account.

The Christian Copyright Solutions answers provided are information, not legal advice. For more information and resources, including fact sheets, videos and idea kits, visit www.christiancopyrightsolutions.com. Use promo code “ABOUTWORSHIP” to receive 10% off the PERFORMmusic and WORSHIPcast Licenses and the PERMISSIONSplus Service.

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