The beginning of the year is a wonderful time to check in on your current copyright habits and set some new resolutions for the coming months! Regardless of when you are reading this post, the information will be a great help in creating good copyright habits. Below, we offer some detailed copyright information, as well as several ideas to help you use your license permissions to the fullest.  

What Is Copyright?

Copyright is a form of intellectual property law. It protects any artistic medium: songs, poems, drama, literature, or even computer software. Whatever the medium, it must be in a fixed form; you cannot copyright an idea. Anytime you utilize a copyrighted work in a new way, for example, reprinting it in a worship aid, displaying it on a projection screen, or including it in an online worship service, the composer, author, or any other owners of that creative work deserve compensation for that use.

Here at ONE LICENSE, we utilize your music usage reports to calculate and disperse royalties to our Member Publishers, who then pay the artists, composers, authors, and arrangers. We strongly believe that accurately paying out these royalties is a justice issue. We strive to appropriately support the creative work of the composers, authors, and other artists who inspire our musical praise. It is essential for our worshiping communities that these artists continue composing and contributing that creative work to utilize it in our worship services.  

What Do I Need to Do to Be in Compliance?

If you are using copyrighted music in any of the ways described above, you need a license. To determine which License is the best fit for your worshiping community, take a look at the helpful resources in this article: Addressing Your Licensing Needs 

Once you have obtained the correct License for your context, read through your personalized Welcome Packet for helpful tips and tricks for making the most of your license permissions. 

The two most important aspects of utilizing your License, and remaining copyright compliant, are: 1) correctly displaying your permissions and 2) consistently reporting your music usage. 

Display Your Licensing Permissions

One vital aspect of getting the most out of your License, and remaining copyright compliant, is properly displaying your licensing permissions. When displaying your permissions in a worship aid, on a projection screen, or in an online setting, follow this format:

Note that you should fill in your unique License number where the graphic currently shows zeros (#A-000000). The copyright information (song title, text, tune, copyright, and publisher) should be displayed for each title used within your service. While you are certainly welcome to list your licensing information at the end of each title, the licensing permission information, including your unique License number, need only be shown once. We suggest placing this information at the beginning or end of your worship aid, projection slides, or worship video. Putting this information within the video itself and in the video description is ideal for online services.

Report Your Music Usage

The other vital aspect of getting the most out of your License, and remaining copyright compliant, is consistently and accurately reporting your music usage through your ONE LICENSE account. Note that public domain titles do not need to be reported to ONE LICENSE. Our database does include some public domain titles because some Member Publishers have provided downloadable files for these titles.

You should report copyrighted music from our Member Publishers that you reprint for an in-person worship service as well as all copyrighted music (from our Member Publishers who participate in Podcast / Streaming) that will be shared online on any platform. Reprinting refers to taking the text and / or melody lines out of the originally purchased resource and using them in a “new” way. Examples of this include putting the text and / or melody line into your worship aid or on a projection screen. If you have an Annual + Podcast / Streaming License Bundle, reprinting also includes putting the text or melody within your online service or emailing the text and melody to your congregation. 

Our Podcast / Streaming License covers all the necessary permissions for sharing your services in any online format, including (but not limited to): YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, Zoom, or your organization’s website.

For more details on the reporting process, how to report liturgical settings, or choral / instrumental music in an online service—or steps to take if you are behind on reporting—take a look at these helpful articles: 

In rare cases, if you have done your due diligence in searching for a title from one of our Member Publishers by title, composer, first line, and the other browse-by options, but are still unable to find the title, consider filling out a manual submission. Our manual submission process allows our Member Publishers to directly view the data you have provided. This assists them in determining if the requested title is covered by their agreements with us, and if so, they can add that data to the ONE LICENSE database. 

The Notification Center in your License Holder account is an ideal way to keep track of the status of your manual submissions. Submissions that have been accepted can be clicked to save or search that SKU for easy reporting in the future. If a submission has been rejected, the Member Publisher will often provide further information to explain why the title was rejected. You are always welcome to reach out to the ONE LICENSE team at info@onelicense.net, or the Publisher directly, for further assistance or clarification on manual submission rejections. 

Whether you feel confident when it comes to copyright or completely out of your element, we hope this article provides you with a few ideas for building good copyright habits in the months and years to come. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at info@onelicense.net with any questions or concerns – we are very happy to help!


Photo copyright: Vitaly Vlasov. This image is available for download at www.pexels.com.

Special thanks to contributor Siobhán Maguire, License Holder Support Specialist for ONE LICENSE.