This piece was originally published on September 21, 2020.

There are lots of reasons why organizations fall behind on their copyright usage reporting: 

  • Change in the music director or administrative assistant roles (which is often accompanied by a delay in hiring replacements)
  • Unclear expectations in the organization of who is responsible for a given task
  • A staff member becoming ill
  • Staff vacations, leaves of absence, or celebrating a well-deserved retirement

Here at ONE LICENSE, we understand that these things happen during normal times, let alone during the unprecedented times we are living in. After all, we are living through COVID-19 with you. We know what the pandemic has done to standard operating procedures in our churches, hospitals, synagogues, nursing homes, schools, etc. These are indeed extraordinary times, and we are here to help provide educational tools in any way we can.

When license holders join our service, a “Welcome Packet” document is sent via email. This document outlines the terms of agreement of license, including the responsibility of reporting the music used during your worship services. Licensing works and paying out those royalties is a foundational value of ONE LICENSE. We know you will agree that it is a matter of justice for our composers, text writers, arrangers, authors, publishers, and all other artists to be duly compensated for the usage of their works. Royalties are calculated from license holder copyright usage reports, and as a result, we have an obligation to the people who enable and inspire our prayer to make a good faith effort to catch up on copyright reporting, and then to make a commitment to stay on top of it moving forward. 

While most license holders report on a weekly basis when planning their services and downloading image files, some find more ease in reporting one day a month. For example, many of our users have calendar reminders set up for a day when they have fewer responsibilities, or they set aside a time for tying up loose ends at the end of the month. If you have not submitted your reports at least quarterly, then you are behind on your reporting and it’s time to catch up! 

Not sure where to begin? 

  1. Is there a box or a computer file somewhere with all the worship aids? 
  1. Are your bulletins with the list of service music on your website? 
  1. Where are the lists from the music director(s) for each service? 
  1. Are the service videos archived on your YouTube channel or Facebook feed?

If the gap in reporting history is before your time at your organization, find someone who knows the institutional history. They’ll know where to find the boxes and computer files. Faith communities are full of people who want to assist you. People in your church, synagogue, nursing home, school, or hospital have already identified themselves as people who care about ethics and justice. If some of these people also have good organizational skills, then you have likely found your helpers! 

Here are some steps we recommend when you are ready to start catching up with reporting:

  1. Start by gathering your staff to watch the New User Webinar, the Creative Solutions to Growing Concerns (a COVID-19 themed webinar), and the Podcast / Streaming Webinar, even if you’ve watched them before. There’s a lot to keep track of when it comes to copyright, and there’s a chance that team members missed some of the previously shared content.
  1. Collect all the podcast / livestream videos, worship aids, and song lists. Divide them up among your helpers: review them and write down the ONE LICENSE titles in a Google Doc, Word document, or Excel sheet, noting how many times each title was used. Pay attention to titles that have multiple copyrights (text, melody, arranger, etc.) and write down each one. 
  1. Now that you have your list of titles to be reported, add your staff’s email addresses to your account so they can begin to report copyright usage moving forward. Have them watch this tutorial video on how to search for titles so they can use the search features at ONE LICENSE to their advantage.

The ONE LICENSE reporting system is an 18-week schedule: 12 weeks into the past and 6 weeks into the future. Using September 15 as an example, you can see as far back as Week 24 (June 18 – 24, 2020) and as far forward as Week 41 (October 15 – 21, 2020). Anything older than 12 weeks should be reported under any available week while you are catching up. 

Depending on how far behind you are on submitting your usage reports, remember that you can also “multiply” your reports by increasing the number of “services” a title was used for.

If you did not use copyrighted titles from ONE LICENSE, then just indicate that you have “nothing to report” by checking the appropriate week, scrolling to the bottom of the page, and choosing that option from the dropdown menu. You will see the black checkmarks above that indicate those weeks have been completed and no titles were used. 

Note the image below and the services dropdown menu. As an example, if you sang “All Is Holy” four times since you last logged in and reported your usage, and those weeks are no longer available, you can add additional services to catch up. All you would need to do is change the dropdown menu to “4 Services.” 

While the reports are certainly “better late than never” in this scenario, it is vital to stay on top of your usage reporting. In addition to composers and authors receiving their royalties at the appropriate time (and not seeing Christmas songs reported in June!), it also helps with your annual planning. Being able to look back and see what you used during a given week of a previous year is incredibly helpful information — and can help you keep track of what songs were used year after year. 

Once you are all caught up, consider continuing to report at least monthly, or even weekly if that is most convenient for you. And remember, you do not need to report Public Domain titles to ONE LICENSE! We understand that catching up on reporting can be a daunting task. On behalf of our composers, text writers, arrangers, authors, publishers, and all other artists, we thank you for your diligence in this matter. If you require further assistance, please contact our team by emailing us directly at We are happy to help.

Photo copyright: Bongkarn Thanyakij. This image is available for download at