A few years ago, I remember seeing a very poignant anti-piracy ad. The scene is a subway platform with a typical street musician, and people come by and take money out of her guitar case. Apply that to our church setting, and it becomes worse. When music directors, worship leaders and worship team members disregard copyright laws or try to rationalize illegal behavior, it’s musicians stealing from musicians.

In contrast, the majority of the funds that CCLI receives in annual fees from licensed churches are paid out in royalties to song owners whose songs are blessing the churches. Here’s just one example of the hundreds of stories we hear – many from independent songwriters like Jason Whitehorn, who recently commented:

We had a medical bill that came at a time we had not planned for… got a sweet check in the mail that God had planned for when He helped me write a song, He helped CCLI take loving care for the administration of it… and had your churches care to sing it and report its use. I cherished that check and the provision.

CCLI was founded in 1988 by a worship leader in Portland, Oregon. As churches began to use other methods besides hymnals to assist with congregational singing, that’s when copyright issues began to surface. In 1984, a church music publisher sued the Archdiocese of Chicago for over $3 million for illegally photocopying sheet music, and the lawsuit became national news. Howard Rachinski, CCLI’s founder, developed the blanket license concept, and the CCLI license quickly became the solution for the copyright issues surrounding typical church music copying activities. Over 160,000 churches across North America now have the CCLI License.

Representing over 3,000 church music publishers and the vast majority of the worship songs sung in churches today, the CCLI License provides churches and other ministries the legal permission to:

  • Store lyrics on computer for visual projection
  • Print songs in bulletins, programs, liturgies, and song sheets
  • Record live music (audio and video) from your worship service
  • Make custom arrangements for vocalists and musicians, when no published version is available
  • Translate song lyrics into other languages when no published version is available
  • There are optional add-ons for streaming and webcasting your worship service and sharing audio recordings for rehearsal purposes.

Available to CCLI License holders, the SongSelect subscription service is the most comprehensive source of worship sheet music on the web. Lyrics, Chord Sheets, Lead Sheets and Vocal Harmony sheets from over 100,000 worship songs are available, including all the top CCLI songs.

CVLI and the Church Video License
The Church Video License provides the legal coverage for churches and ministries to publicly show movie scenes for sermon illustrations and full movies for a wide range of ministry events. Over 1,000 producers are covered by the license, including all the top Hollywood studios.

Honoring the Churches and the Creatives
In a culture where intellectual property is often an afterthought, CCLI has provided solutions that serve churches and ministries while honoring the songwriters, publishers and movie studios that create the songs and modern-day parables that bless our gatherings. The worker is indeed worthy of his hire. And CCLI is honored to serve and bless both those who minister within the church and create for the church.

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