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One of the first platforms pastors think of using to share their church videos is YouTube. At first glance, it seems like a convenient way to connect with a wider audience. Yet many church leaders are caught off guard when their account is flagged with a church video YouTube copyright claim, blocking their content and causing unwelcome interruptions.
So, why does this happen? U.S. and international copyright laws protect the rights of song owners to determine how their music is used. They state that any recording, streaming, or broadcasting of copyrighted works requires permission. In response to potential litigation, YouTube created Content ID—an algorithm that identifies copyrighted music that is streamed or uploaded on their site.
Streaming any music without permission can result in a YouTube copyright strike. One strike blocks your content until the dispute is resolved, and if you receive three strikes, your account can be disabled and your archived church videos deleted. Even worse, YouTube owns the copies of your streamed services, so if your church doesn’t have backup copies of these recordings, those will be lost forever.
Let’s take a look at four ways to avoid church video YouTube copyright strikes.
(Note: this article is not intended to offer legal advice. Please visit YouTube’s website or consult with a copyright attorney for specific information related to your rights.)
A CCLI Streaming License makes it simple to get legal permissions to stream over 400,000 Christian songs and archive an on-demand copy of your stream. They also offer a CCLI Streaming Plus license that covers streaming master recordings of Christian songs, soundtracks, multitracks, and other audio recordings.
Separate permissions are needed for streaming music from copyright owners that are not included in CCLI’s coverage. Other copyright clearinghouses that offer a church streaming copyright license are OneLicense and Christian Copyright Solutions.
Each of these companies handle managing copyrights for your church and pay out royalties to songwriters and publishers. Remember that even with a church streaming copyright license in place, YouTube’s algorithms are not perfect and often mistakenly flag a licensed church video with YouTube copyright strikes.
While it’s always important to adhere to copyright laws, there are other streaming platforms that allow you to legally stream your church videos without being blocked by inconsistent copyright algorithms.
Social media platforms like YouTube and Facebook have terms and conditions that take complete ownership of your church’s videos, so if your account is blocked or deleted, you can lose them for good. With Subsplash Media, you retain ownership and the right to control your live streams and videos.
Another option to avoid any copyright strikes is to only sing songs that are in the public domain and no longer subject to copyright protection. The songs can be recorded and streamed without permission, helping your church avoid any copyright issues that might arise.
When using public domain songs, however, it’s important to verify if those older hymns and choruses are public domain. The US Copyright Law protects songs for the life of the author plus another 70 years, and new versions, adaptations, or arrangements of old hymns may also be subject to copyright protection.
The most direct method of avoiding copyright strikes is to not include any church music on your church videos streamed on social media. This works well for churches that primarily want to stream their sermons, Bible studies, and other non-music related content.
Despite being the most straightforward option, this approach isn’t for everyone. Some congregations might feel strongly about removing their church’s music from their streams and videos.
Exploring these simple steps can give your church the peace of mind—knowing that your streamed videos are legal, safe, and reaching the people wanting to engage with your message.
With Subsplash Live, you’re able to stream your content to your website, mobile app, YouTube, and Facebook, all while knowing that your content is safely backed up, even if a Big Tech company deletes or blocks it from their platform.
If you’re ready to move your church videos to a platform that respects religious liberty, appreciates your church’s rights to freedom, and also integrates with other platforms like YouTube and Facebook, simply fill out the form below to learn more about Subsplash Media.