Every piece of original work, whether written, composed or filmed, is protected by copyright during the creator's lifetime and generally for 70 years after the end of the year in which they died.
Copyright is an intellectual property protection which affects the use of liturgy, music, images and other resources or text in worship, online and in print. This page gives guidance for helping you comply with copyright law.
The law on copyright has significant implications for local churches, a number of which have been pursued by copyright holders for alleged copyright infringement with the potential for significant fines and legal costs.
To stay within the law, all churches need copyright approval to:
- Photocopy hymns
- Show hymns on an overhead projector
- Photocopy text from books
- Record music, such as a church concert
- Publish others' work in a church magazine
- Use others' images or text on a church website
You must ensure that you have permission to use images anywhere online, including your website and all social media accounts, as well as in print. Just because an image, or any other resource, is available online does not mean it may be used. Indeed, it is likely that the image or resource in question will be subject to copyright and you will not have the right to use it without the consent of the copyright holder.
Various websites grant licenses to use an image in exchange for a fee. Getty Images is a supplier of premium images, often to media and marketing companies; many of their images will prove too expensive for your church. Fortunately Getty also offer a free programme to use a large set of their photography: Getty Images embed. This programme allows you to embed photos on your site for free.
The website 123rf.com also provides useful stock photography, some of which are free, as well as stock audio and video.
Another option is Creative Commons where copyright holders grant permission to use their work, although do check whether any limitations apply. For example, the copyright holder may stipulate that their work cannot be used for commercial purposes, or that it may not be altered or that a short statement should appear identifying them as the creator. Incorrect use could result in copyright infringement, so be clear about the scope of the permission that has been granted.
Other useful websites to consider include PhotoPin and Flickr. There are many other similar websites and it is recommended that you compare what is available to ensure that your requirements are met without incurring unnecessary expense.
Material produced by the Methodist Church in Britain
All material contained on the Methodist Church in Britain website is covered by UK and International Copyright laws. All material produced by The Methodist Church in Britain is copyright Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes (TMCP). All requests for use of material should be made to the web editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Some text on the Methodist Church in Britain website (For example 'Special Sundays' material and 'A Word in Time' Bible studies) can be used for non-commercial purposes by churches without need for copyright permission. In these cases this is stated alongside the text.
Where copyright for text on the Methodist Church in Britain website belongs to a third party this will be stated alongside the text. Permission to use the material should then be requested directly from the third party.
Images (apart from Methodist Church logos) on this website must not be used without prior permission. Contact the web editor by email at email@example.com with any requests.
Copyright of hymns
Permission to reproduce copyright hymns should be obtained from the appropriate publisher. Do not copy hymns by any means, including posting them on your website, unless you have the permission or authority from the copyright owner or are covered by a copyright licence. Failure to obtain the relevant permission or licence could put your church at risk.
Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI) To overcome the complexities involved in getting official approval everytime you use a copyrighted resource in church, CCLI offers a set of simple licences. These licences are based on an annual fee which is tailored to the size of the congregation, and are designed to cover the various uses of material in different circumstances.
CCLI website: www.ccli.co.uk