(pic credit: Muddy Ride ©2017-2020 by crisbaj. Used with permission)

Definition of Intellectual Property:

a work or invention that is the result of creativity, such as a manuscript or a design, to which one has rights and for which one may apply for a patent, copyright, trademark, etc. (from the Oxford Dictionary)

To ALL my church-leader friends who are doing Facebook and YouTube live feeds with LIVE WORSHIP MUSIC…

[] Life-Line in Quarantine

Yes, the ability to create live-streaming video and post on easy-to-find media sources like FACEBOOK and YouTube… and cheap-to-free, by the way… has been a huge ‘pivot’ in this COVID19 Quarantine. Many (many!) congregants who found themselves cloistered at home, unable to gather with their beloved congregations, have found great comfort in watching their well-known worship leader singing familiar songs and hymns via live-stream.

[] Worship Music and Intellectual Property

One reality of our culture is that MOST worship music lives in the realm of ‘intellectual property’. Artists write, record and perform songs as their ‘bread-and-butter’ living income. There is a huge industry, with tens-of-thousands of employees who draw a paycheck from representing and presenting the music that these ‘worship artists’ produce. YES, this whole ‘worship music machine’ has been controversial over the decades, but it does exist.

[] Potential Violations of Copyrights

If ‘intellectual property’ is used in certain ways, it can be considered a legal violation of existing copyright and ownership laws. This includes worship music, even though the live-stream is a volunteer worship leader banging out a song to the 100 people in that humble congregation, hanging on via streaming to their beloved friends.

So far, the live-stream ‘platforms’ like FaceBook and YouTube have allowed tens of thousands of these streaming events to occur, starting with the 3/11/2020 thrust of the world into pandemic quarantine.

There have been some circles of worship leaders that have discussed the legalities of this move. The ‘copyright clearinghouse’ that most churches use, CCLI, has been a great resource, and allowed many churches to pay and up-grade their legal coverage to perform and stream certain intellectual property, including live and pre-recorded. Make no mistake about it; CCLI is a clearing-house, so that churches can pay THEM and get legal coverage to perform the songs on Sundays, and some (limited) streaming rights allowance.

The much-larger non-church worship industry is significantly suffering to-date (mid-September), since LIVE PERFORMANCES like 2020 concerts and festivals have been cancelled due to COVID19. MOST of those that work in the industry are having a hard time paying bills.

Consequently, there has been significant legal push-back in the last few months regarding legal violations of intellectual property laws.

Due to the huge out-cry of INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY owners (artists, music companies, etc) to the streaming platforms (like FaceBook and YouTube), these ‘free’ live-streaming options are CHANGING their policies effective OCTOBER 1, and they will block and delete accounts that illegally broadcast live-music content.

Read for yourselves… for FaceBook, it is ‘Terms of Service’ section 3.2

October Terms of Service changes PREVIEW at: https://www.facebook.com/legal/terms/preview


Will these changes to the free streaming platforms have an effect on our Quarantine-streaming of worship services?


Is there a chance that small congregations will only be able to stream spoken-word sermons and teachings?


What about churches that have paid into streaming-rights licensing like CCLI?

Unsure. As of this writing, I could nt find any discussion by the platforms on how they will handle these complexities.

BUT… here it comes…

written by crisbaj

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All Scripture references from New International Version unless otherwise indicated.

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