Have you ever wanted to use a YouTube video in your service to enhance your message? Or maybe there is a really great lyric video that you thought would encourage your congregation to sing along? Or in these times of worshipping virtually, maybe you found a beautiful performance of a piece that would be the perfect prelude or postlude for your service? When it comes to YouTube and other video websites, there are so many great videos that you may want to share with your congregation, but it is important to ask, “Do I have permission to share this?”

If you are using someone else’s video in something that you are creating, such as a worship service, there may be as many as three separate rights involved: the owner of the video recording, any copyright of the song in the video, and an owner of the commercial recording of the song used in the video. It is important to know that many videos found online are created without permission from the song’s copyright holder. Please be sure that you are following these steps to ensure you have the correct permissions to use these videos in your service.

With ONE LICENSE, License Holders have access to thousands of congregational hymns, songs, and service music from today’s top liturgical music publishers to use in their worship services. In addition, throughout this time of social distancing, we have seen an increase in the number of License Holders who are opting for our Annual Reprint + Podcast / Streaming License Bundle and our Limited Podcast / Streaming License, which would cover music created by you, your musicians, congregation, and / or ministers that is streamed or stored on YouTube, Facebook Live, StreamSpot, your organization’s website, Zoom, Dropbox, or any similar internet services. 

Many License Holders have been asking whether they can use another organization’s lyric video or choral performances to enhance their own worship services. This is different because you did not create those videos; someone else did. Many of these lyric or music videos are commercial recordings. It is important to remember that no use of commercial masters or publisher-owned recordings (Professional recordings found on CDs, MP3s, YouTube, etc) is covered under any of our licenses. Before you use the video, you will need to secure permission from the owner to use it.

However, if you are looking to use someone else’s video that is clearly a self-made recording, it’s important that you secure two forms of permission. For example, many churches are looking to share a neighboring church’s video, or perhaps the video is something your diocese has helped provide during these times of virtual worship. Here are the steps you would take to be able to use the video: 

  1. Obtain permission from the creator of the video.
  2. Check to make sure the title is covered under your ONE LICENSE Podcast / Streaming License.
  3. Give appropriate acknowledgment in the video description when uploading. For example: “Used with the expressed permission of St. Joseph’s Parish.” This is especially important if images of other people are involved in the video. 

Of course, we encourage all our License Holders to create their own original recordings to share within your services since your Podcast / Streaming License covers your in-house, self-made recordings of titles from participating Member Publishers. These recordings can be live in your service or pre-recorded and edited together after the fact. If you create the recordings yourself, then you are the owner of those recordings, and permission to use the underlying songs can be covered via ONE LICENSE. 

If you have the ability to pre-record the music and include it with your worship video, you have some great options for making your own digital masterpiece. Many License Holders add lyrics to their videos as a way to encourage their members to sing at home with either a text overlay, a lower third caption style, or a multitude of other creative options. You could show the music leaders in the background, or if you only record the vocals, you could use images of your sanctuary. You could also use royalty-free images from websites like pexels.com to enhance the message of the music. If you choose to use royalty-free images, ONE LICENSE suggests giving credit, just as we do at the end of our blogs.

Here are some examples of self-made work that include lyrics with images in the background to help encourage singing:

Please note that your ONE LICENSE Podcast / Streaming License covers permission for your live or pre-recorded performances ONLY within the context of your worship service. If you would like to post the music video as a stand-alone “performance” type video on your website, social media, etc., that would not be covered under your ONE LICENSE permissions. You would need to contact the copyright holder directly for permission to use their copyrighted title in that way.

So, to summarize, whenever your worship planning team wants to use a video found on YouTube that you did not create, you will need to make several connections to obtain the permissions needed:

  1. The owner of the video:

This video is someone’s creative work and you need permission from the person who created it, even if it doesn’t carry an explicit claim to copyright © year, name. This means reaching out to the owner of the YouTube channel where you found the video. 

  1. The owner of the master recording (or commercial master, if different):

Oftentimes, the creator of the video is not the performer of the music or work included (e.g., if there is a cover of a song used by someone else to create a lyric video.) In this case, you would need the permission of the musician or other performer. Again, the performance is someone’s creative work, whether or not it carries an explicit claim to copyright © year, name.

  1. The copyright holder of the song itself (via the appropriate ONE LICENSE license).

Look for the © year, name claim to copyright at the bottom of the hymnal page (or at the bottom of the musical score’s title page). If you do not have a copy of the published song, you can Google, “who holds the copyright to [title]?” Note that there are many videos online that are, unfortunately, created without the direct consent of a song’s copyright holder, so that’s why it’s vital to contact both the copyright holder(s) of the content as well as the creator of the video so you can be sure to have the necessary permissions you need and to ensure everyone is getting the credit they deserve!

We know many of our License Holders are trying to find new ways to share the digital worship experience with their congregants, which leads to trying new, creative ideas. If you have any questions or are looking for guidance on how and what may be covered by your ONE LICENSE Podcast / Streaming License, please contact us. Our team would be happy to help.

Photo copyright: Jonas Ferlin.  This image is available for download at www.pexels.com.

Example Screenshots used with permission from Pr. Greg Ronning (The Table OC) and St. John’s Lutheran Church, Sacramento.

Jesus, Remember Me. Tune: Jaques Berthier, © 1981, Les Presses de Taizé, GIA Publications, Inc Text: © 1981, Les Presses de Taizé, GIA Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. 

Lord, Let Us See Your Kindness. Text: Based on Psalm 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14. Text and music © 2003, Scott Soper. Published by OCP. All rights reserved. 

Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE #A-736383. All rights reserved.