for Pastors and Church workers from The United Methodist Church Conference Resource Team.
Most resources in our media center have limited public performance rights already! You will need no license to show them as long as there is no admission fee charged. This is limited public performance. The text below applies to the showing of feature films and other copyrighted resources.
Video Licenses for United Methodist Local Churches
You may have programming or situations where you would like to show a theatrical film to a group at church. United Methodist Communications working with CVLI has a program to help local churches sign-up for a discount. This is available in the United Methodist Communications Online Store. More information below.
Play Movies with Purpose and Legal Permission
SUMMARY: Movie plot staples are proof that Hollywood learned a long time ago about the modern-day morality issues that pastors address weekly from the pulpit. Consider these: unwavering faith in the face of overwhelming adversity; uncompromising commitment to do what is right, even when the wrong path is more lucrative; and unshakable devotion to a true love, despite temptation.
It is no wonder religious leaders use movie clips to illustrate their sermons. After all, audiences are conditioned by memorable movie moments that seem to span generations.
The tricky part is using the poignant imagery of a movie scene without running afoul of copyright laws. The Federal Copyright Act of 1976 stipulates that prerecorded videocassettes and DVDs be authorized for personal home use only, unless permission is granted for a public performance. That permission process can be time-consuming and costly.
Maybe your church doesn’t use movie clips during sermons. However, do you use movies to connect with your congregation during Sunday school or host movie nights?
Helping churches to stay on the right side of the law is Christian Video Licensing International (CVLI), an independent agency that sells annual licenses to churches and religious schools that show video material.
The licenses, with prices based on the congregation size, offer blanket copyright coverage for video titles from more than 100 producers. To purchase or get detailed information about the CVLI license check out the United Methodist Communications Online Store.
But CVLI does more than keep your church video use legal. It offers access to an excellent resource, ScreenVue, which offers more than 1,200 illustration ideas. Need a movie or just a clip to illustrate “awkwardness”? ScreenVue will give you 18 options. Talking about “impossible odds”? You will have about 25 choices.
ScreenVue’s free package includes a scene summary, themes, Scripture references, start/stop times and more. You can rent or purchase the movies on your own. ScreenVue, however, also offers a $34.95 annual package upgrade that allows you to download scenes from selected movies and hard-to-find independent/Christian films. ScreenVue also has a “free promos” section where you can download clips for free. These are usually movies that are currently playing in theaters.
Potential uses for movies and clips in religious education are limitless. Appropriateness and relevance are the keys.
The use of movies in church dates back to the early 1900s. The New York Times reported in 1915 that the New York Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church approved using “moving-picture performances” as a way to draw churchgoers.
Today, more than 60,000 churches, camps, Christian schools and childcare centers across North America rely on CVLI licenses for copyright protection.
If you would like to show movies at your church, you can purchase the CVLI license at the United Methodist Communications Online Store.
Music Licenses for Churches
Copyright laws also apply to music that your church may use in worship services, group meetings, or other events. Churches may obtain a Church Copyright License from CCLI to cover the following uses of copyrighted music:
- Print songs, hymns and lyrics in bulletins, programs, liturgies and songsheets for use in congregational singing.
- Create your own customized songbooks or hymnals for use in congregational singing.
- Create overhead transparencies, slides or use any other format whereby song lyrics are visually projected (such as computer graphics and projection) for use in congregational singing.
- Arrange, print and copy your own arrangements (vocal and instrumental) of songs used for congregational singing, where no published version is available.
- Record your worship services (audio or video) provided you only record live music. Accompaniment tracks cannot be reproduced. You may charge up to $4 each for audiocassette tapes and CDs, and $12 each for videotapes and DVDs.
Churches may obtain a CCLI license at http://www.ccli.com/WhatWeOffer/ChurchCopyrightLicense.aspx. Prices vary according to congregation size.
With the purchase of a CCLI license, churches can also choose to join SongSelect™. This service provides lead sheets, chord sheets, vocal sheets, lyrics and sound samples for use in your church. Membership is only available to Church Copyright License holders.