UPDATE Jan. 20, 2021: Please read this updated permissions statement from the Sovereign Grace Music blog.
When the COVID-19 crisis caused governments to mandate that churches not gather, Sovereign Grace Music wanted to make it easy for people to live stream our music online to encourage their members. While the current situation doesn’t allow for the saints gathering as we’re told to do in Scripture (Heb. 10:25), we’re grateful that Christ-exalting communication over the Internet can be a means of grace that makes us long to be able to meet together again (Ps. 122:1)!
Recently, Sovereign Grace Music posted on social media that we would allow churches to stream our songs, live or recorded, for their services, but many people didn’t see it. So I’m posting more details here.
Because many churches don’t typically live stream their services, we are giving churches permission to use any Sovereign Grace published song in a video stream, live or recorded, from now through the end of December. If the crisis continues, we’ll extend this deadline. This includes permission to sing our songs live, use an original audio or video recording, and/or display the song lyrics, without obtaining a streaming license. We only request that you include the copyright information either in your video, in the video notes, or on your website, including the phrase, “Used by permission,” after the phrase, “All rights reserved.”
For example, the copyright information for “O Lord, My Rock and My Redeemer” would look like this:
Music and words by Nathan Stiff © 2017 Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP) Sovereign Grace Music, a division of Sovereign Grace Churches. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Administrated worldwide at www.CapitolCMGPublishing.com, excluding the UK & Europe which is adm. by Integrity Music. www.SovereignGraceMusic.org
You can find the copyright information for any of our songs on our website. Just search for the song and you’ll find it underneath the lyrics on the song’s page.
This gratis permission extends to those outside of the US, but we can’t say for sure that your video won’t be flagged because of different copyright laws in other countries. We hope these guidelines will help you navigate through this. If you happen to live in the UK, you’ll find this post from my good friend, Matt Dennis, helpful.
Streaming Original Recordings
It’s important to note that using an artist’s original audio or video recording of a song isn’t covered under the CCLI Church Copyright License, but we’re giving you permission to do this with our music.
If you plan to play recorded music before/after your service (from other sources), you need to purchase a CCS Worshipcast Streaming License. We learned that the hard way in my home church, Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, when our Sunday live stream was taken down the next day because YouTube blocked it due to possible copyright infringement. We were able to work it out but we decided not to play music before or after the service to avoid it from happening again.
If you use a copyrighted recording of a song during your live stream, it’s still possible the streaming platform you use will claim your video for monetization. Please do not dispute these claims unless they result in disabling your video (which is rare). This is especially true for YouTube and Facebook. If this happens, please let us know and send us the URL to your video so we can investigate.
I’d suggest waiting to stream or post your video until Sunday morning to avoid the possibility of your video being disabled before your church has a chance to watch it!
A License Still Might be a Good Idea
Although you have our permission to use our songs without a license until the end of December, it’s still a good idea to obtain the CCLI Church Copyright License with the Streaming License add-on during this season to protect your church and cooperate with copyright laws, especially if you use music from other sources. In this season, CCLI is offering a 10% discount to new users, which equates to the first month free.
I’m hoping to write a blog post this week on the difference between online streaming and an actual gathering, and why it’s important that we highlight those differences in this season. But in the meantime, we’re grateful that our music can serve churches throughout the world, gathered or scattered, whose heart is to “praise the name of God with a song.” (Psalm 69:30, ESV)