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Member Beau Wood helps with the technical side of live-streaming assemblies of the Anchorage Church of Christ in Alaska. The Internet broadcasts serve shut-in members as well as out-of-town Christians.

Licensing a ‘growing concern’ as more churches broadcast services online

The Christian Chronicle reported recently on the increasing number of Churches of Christ that broadcast Sunday assemblies live on the Internet.

The Camp Hill Church of Christ in central Pennsylvania has embraced technology to reach more people with the Gospel. (PHOTO BY DAVE SMITH)That story prompted this note from reader Robbie Warrell, who attends the Conestoga Valley Church of Christ in Lancaster, Pa.:

While writing your article on live-streaming, did you get into any discussion on licensing? My understanding is that the normal CCLI license does not cover live broadcasting of worship service. For this reason, I believe many churches only make the sermon available online. I would love to see a follow-up article explaining the legality of live broadcasting.

Thank you for your service.

The Chronicle asked Hammond Burke, executive director of the Church of Christ Broadcast Network, to respond to Warrell’s question:

Yes, this is a growing concern as the Internet becomes more mainstream.

CCLI license only covers music, not the sermon. Congregations should obtain licensing for any material (music, images, video) that is broadcast online. 

There are no regulations yet over the sermons. It is becoming more of an issue, though. I have seen some conflicts arise between preachers and leadership over who has the rights to sell sermons as downloads. This  becomes more of an issue when the church has a guest preacher. A simple  signed waiver would avoid those conflicts. 

The challenge in live-streaming is when there are visual aids like video clips, photos and music involved. Licensing needs to cover all those materials if streamed online.

There are blanket licenses you can obtain. Our congregation either makes sure our licensing covers online streaming of visuals and music, or we don’t broadcast that portion of service. We will literally display another  graphic while a video clip is showing that we do not have permission to  rebroadcast. Hope this helps!

See a CCLI church streaming and podcast license fact sheet.

Filed under: News Extras News Links Reader Feedback

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