“Can we show videos from video-sharing websites in our church?” is one of our most frequently asked questions.
And no wonder. Video-sharing platforms offer a treasure trove of content for almost every conceivable situation. However, as the sheer volume of content and the number of channels increases, understanding if and when you can show this content in church becomes ever more challenging.
So is it okay to stream videos during your church services and activities?
Showing content from video-sharing websites in church
Put simply, you should always have permission from the copyright owner, regardless of the source. CCLI recommends you always use official sources when you are playing copyrighted content.
Not all videos uploaded to video-sharing websites have been done so by, or with the permission of, the copyright owner or licensor. With a staggering number of videos being uploaded to the internet every minute, it is impossible for any platform to control or police the content being uploaded. It’s likely therefore that many of these videos infringe copyright, either accidentally or deliberately, and many sites will place the responsibility for obtaining permission on the creator. (Check the platform’s terms and conditions for details.)
If you can find content that has been uploaded by an official source, the permission you need to show it may be obtained in a number of ways…
Scenes from movies
The easiest way for churches and ministries to get permission to show authorized movies and television shows otherwise intended for personal, private use, is through CCLI’s Church Video License. In this case, the license is considered as consent from the “respective licensor” (view licensed studios/producers).
Check that the scene has been uploaded by the copyright owner or someone authorized by the owner. If the scene has been uploaded to the studio’s own channel, or that of an official partner, you can be confident you’re viewing content from an official source. Studios may have agreements with third parties to upload their content for them. In this case, check carefully that the channel is an official one.
If a scene has been uploaded by an individual, e.g. a fan of the movie, then it should not be deemed covered by the Church Video License and consequently it should not be shown during church activities.
Song videos that show the lyrics so that you can sing along to them are increasingly common on video-sharing platforms. The CCLI Church Copyright License and Streaming Plus License do not cover the visual element of a song video. Therefore, regardless of the source, we recommend you have direct permission from the owner before displaying a song or lyric video in church.
Sometimes, such videos may be embedded on the publisher’s website with details of how they can be used. If the owner or publisher’s description permits a video’s use in church, then this would constitute consent. However, if there is any doubt, contact the publisher or copyright owner for permission before showing the video.
As a general rule, CCLI recommends that you don’t show any other videos without the explicit permission of the copyright owner. If in doubt, it may be possible to establish who owns the copyright. Seeking their direct permission is the safest way to ensure that you’re acting legally and doing the right thing.
As always, our Customer Support team is here to help. Please contact us if you have any questions.