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Many churches now download lyrics and music scores from the internet, then either share them electronically, print them or store them for projection.

Every original piece of work is owned by someone, and material in a digital format or found online should be treated in the same way as that found in a printed publication. It should not be copied, performed or used in any way without regard to the rights of the copyright owner. The internet is world-wide in nature and consequently operates across international boundaries. However, although each country has its own version of copyright laws, most of them adhere to an agreed set of copyright principles.

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If you wish to print out authorised song lyrics downloaded from the internet, or project them using a computer, CCLI’s Church Copyright Licence (CCL) will cover you to do this without infringing copyright law.

If you wish to share electronically (e.g. by emailing a PDF or via network of screens during worship) or photocopy printouts of the files you’ve downloaded, you may also require the supplementary Music Reproduction Licence (MRL).

This is because the publisher owns a separate typography right in the page (printed or electronic). Many publisher websites permit you to purchase, download and print out a single copy of a song which is intended for personal use only. Please ensure you check the publisher’s terms first if you wish to make additional copies (e.g. photocopy, email or other file sharing system)  of a .pdf for use in church activities. It is likely that they will require you to report such copies under the MRL.

How can I be sure the files I’m downloading are the legal, authorised versions?

Always use an official source, such as the publisher’s own website or by using CCLI’s SongSelect.

SongSelect is available to all Church Copyright Licence holders. For a small annual subscription, SongSelect users can benefit from access to the authorised lyrics, lead and chord sheets of thousands of songs. SongSelect is the largest single source of song resources available, featuring all the major publishers in one convenient place. SongSelect is a simple, convenient tool for worship teams, which can save hours of preparation time, while ensuring they’re always using the authorised version.

Try SongSelect for free

Further Information

Fact File: The Church & The Internet

This printable PDF covers the copyright implications of downloading or distributing documents, audio and video material from the internet.

Publishers/Producers

Listings of the music catalogues and publishers covered by the CCL and/or MRL

Frequently Asked Questions

all our FAQs regarding the Church & the Internet