What is CCLI?
Christian Copyright Licensing International, http://www.ccli.com, is an organization founded with the idea in mind that all songs used by churches should be catalogued so as to bless the songwriters with any income the songs might generate.
Primarily, they were founded to help churches comply with copyright law.
A CCLI song number is a number given by CCLI for each song registered with them in order to track usage and to pay the owner of rights any monies that they collect. Churches have the responsibility to report usage (usually, only random churches are selected, depending on the size of the church).
Copyright law states that churches are EXEMPT from paying for PERFORMANCE of songs, but they’re not exempt from liability of distribution of COPIES of the lyrics, whether or overheads or lead sheets, etc.)
CCLI exists in order to grant churches licenses to cover these distributions.
I know, the opinion exists that songs in churches should be free, no matter who wrote the songs. Although no church organization has been sued for copyright infringement, the real possibility exists, and the truth is that churches ARE in copyright violation if they distribute works from Hillsongs, Chris Tomlin, Israel Houghton, and on…AND, why not BLESS these songwriters for their contributions?
(the full story on Performance rights is that there are Performance Rights Organizations in each country. Here in the US they are ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. These organizations license restaurants, night clubs and other venues to play copyrighted works. These organizations in turn pay the holder of rights of songs, publishers and songwriters, depending on how much the songs are played. Churches are the only organizations in the this country granted exemption from performance as stated in copyright law.
How other royalties are paid is another story. CCLI is an organization that helps churches comply with the rest of copyright law. So, they’re exempt from performance but not from distribution of lyrics. )
CCLI will grant a license to a church or church organization with the cost being determined by the size of the church or church organization. CCLI will give an identifiying number for each organization. Churches then report their actual uses of songs (not all churches have to, but your church might be picked randomly) so they can bless the songwriters.
HERE’S WHERE WE COME IN: Songwriters and publishers can apply to CCLI to become a publisher or an administrator and then submit songs to them in so they can be listed with them. CCLI will send you a song number. The song number is how a songwriter can be credited for usage.
Church administration, here’s where you come in: visit ccli.com and seek a Church Copyright License.
Ok, that’s it for CCLI as far as songwriters are concerned.
I to take it one step further to say that CCLI also grants licenses for reahearsals of songs (mp3 distribution). The sound recording is a separate copyright, Again, why not help bless the songwriter? Even though the formula for how the artist/songwriter gets paid from this in the end result will vary, churches are in violation of copyright law unless they have a license.
1) Let our worship and music leaders at church know so they can be legal
2) Register our original songs we wish to use in church with CCLI
ANYONE here can register with ccli.com as a publisher or an administrator. This is not one of those ‘this levels the playing field’ type of come-ons. This is serious stuff.
If anyone is serious about their songwriting in churches, they should do this. Do this if you are a prolific writer and wish to share your songs with other churches.
If anyone here is NOT interested in registering with CCLI, but wish to have any of their songs registered with them, let me know. I am a publisher registered with them, and I’ll be glad to submit your song.
What happens when you submit your song? At this date, they want the title, writer and publisher information for the song and the lyrics. They will only ask for any lead sheet or mp3 submissions after your song has been reported as used by two or three churches.
Songwriters: learn how to submit your songs to CCLI.com so they have a song registration number.
Churches: visit CCLI.com and obtain a Church Copyright License (this covers the overhead and physical distribution of copyrighted lyrics). It doesn’t cost big money. Churches, also obtain a Church Rehearsal License (this covers the distribution of recordings of songs used by the worship team). Also not big money, and well worth it.