The word “copyright” can scare those of us who aren’t attorneys. Copyright law can be downright confusing. Sometimes, it feels easier to bury our heads in the sand than make sure we are 100% legal. But, the truth is it’s not all that confusing.

First of all, why is copyright important?

We all agree that the creators and producers of the lyrics and songs we sing in worship don’t typically do it for free. In fact, their songwriting abilities may be their livelihood. Just like the builders who constructed the sanctuary, the doctor who cares for our loved ones, and the teacher who helps guide our children, these songwriters and producers do work and deserve to be compensated for that work (Luke 10:7). They have copyrighted that work to protect it so they can get compensated. However, paying each individual writer and producer would be a long and daunting task.

That’s why there are companies who are devoted to helping you do this.

The various copyright companies work directly with songwriters and producers to create an agreement for payment for their works. This agreement allows these companies to collect a blanket amount from churches and organizations. They then distribute the payment (or royalties) according to reports presented by the individual churches. So instead of each of us having to contact a publishing company and report that we used a certain song in our worship service, these organizations do that on our behalf. This not only keeps us as churches from having to contact multiple publishing companies, but also keeps the publishing companies from getting thousands of little bitty checks from thousands of different churches. Whether you’re simply displaying lyrics in a bulletin or on a screen, or you’re doing a full web stream of your worship service, you need to make sure you are compensating these workers for their work.

So what’s the next step?

There are a ton of church copyright solutions out there that cover modern worship, classic hymns (that aren’t public domain), and everything in between. This includes the ability to record, stream, or display lyrics. The most common copyright solutions include Christian Copyright Licensing, Inc. or CCLI, Christian Copyright Solutions, and OneLicense.

There are also other companies that specialize in certain regions of the world or specific styles of music. Those include LicenSing, Music Services, and Word of Life. If you have questions about costs, what’s covered and what’s not, and how to report, contact the individual companies for more details.

Now, all these companies require some sort of reporting as well as display of the copyright information (in printed form or on a screen for the congregation to see). If you use MediaShout 6 (or a similar presentation program) it makes it easy to add the necessary copyright information to your slides so that you’re in compliance with their requirements.

However, when it comes to reporting for these organizations, MediaShout 6 is the only software that provides you with a specific lyric reporting tool that makes it easy to track Lyric usage, create reports, and export to a CSV file for reporting purposes. It’s simple, effective, and saves a lot of time.

See, that’s not so scary.

A reasonable annual fee, along with a few reports as requested and the copyright info displayed, and you can get your head back out of the sand! The church, the publishing companies, songwriters, and producers will appreciate you taking the time to make sure everyone is taken care of.