Copyright update for online worship

As many congregations are seeking different ways of keeping in touch with their members, Margaret Johnston, Culture of Safety Research Officer at the Uniting Church WA, gives us a timely reminder that, through your good intentions, you might be in breach of copyright.

I encourage you to look at the following sites for up to date information regarding streaming worship services, reproducing lyrics and music, and the use of other creative works such as liturgy, prayers, poems, reflections, articles etc.

Churches apply for a licence designed for worship purposes and although these come with some restrictions regarding where and when material can be used, they also ensure that the creators of the material are acknowledged and rewarded for their works.

Reproduction Licences must be purchased by individual congregations for where the congregation meets, and streaming licences apply only to the congregation’s website. Detailed information is available by visiting:



In brief, both have helpful information for using songs and music, videos, podcasts and streaming, and for the future, live performances. Their websites are easy to use, and once you have purchased a licence, keep you up to date with current information. OneLicense issue newsletters and frequently holds webinars to ease the burden of responsibility.

Whether you print orders of service, have them on PowerPoint or are currently recording services and streaming them, and are including songs and Hymns, a licence is required, and the songs used reported to the licensing agency. For example, Hymns in Together in Song are mostly covered by CCLI and OneLicense, although the supplement to Together in Song, Songs of Grace, is covered mainly by OneLicense.

If you choose to not hold a licence it is necessary to ask for permission to use works which takes time; with a licence, selection of Hymns and music can be made and changed without worry, as reporting is done after they have been used.

The following links have some important and helpful information regarding streaming: (this is a UK based site and refers to PRS; a visit to this site will give you all the information you need:

It is also important to remember that if you are inserting words of prayers, liturgy or quotations from books, articles etc, a CAL licence is required. The Synod of WA holds a group licence for CAL which all congregations can participate in.

Please contact if you require more information regarding CAL.

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