Copyright Guidelines for Churches



For use by pastors, treasurers, worship leaders, teachers, and those who prepare bulletins and worship material.

The material given below has been prepared to answer some of your questions on copyright as it is applied to worship activities in a congregation or school. It has been prepared primarily for congregational use, but what is given here applies to schools as they prepare worship materials.

Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is correct. If you feel a particular situation is not covered, please contact the National Office, and we will endeavour to help you. Congregational users should note that the basic principles of copyright as given here apply to anything the congregation copies, whether it is for worship, a song book you use at Kids Club, or items you want to publish in your parish magazine. Schools generally have other licensing arrangements for non-worship material.

Please be particularly careful about cartoons or pictures. Unless a cartoon or picture comes from a copyright-free source (such as MediaCom clip art) you may NOT reproduce it without permission. Calvin & Hobbes, Peanuts, and the like are covered by copyright, and permission must be received before they are copied.

Please note the following points.

  • The topic of electronic reproduction and storage of music is not covered here. That is still a ‘grey’ area.
  • The playing of pre-recorded music in worship services (including wedding services) does not require a license.
  • The photocopying of music (manuscript) is another matter and has not been dealt with here. The CCLI and LicenSing include provisions for copying music. Please refer to each licensing group’s manual for more details.
  • A congregational license does not cover the school and the school license does not cover the congregation. Each body must have its own.
  • The information given here applies only to using hymns/songs in ‘disposable’ order of service sheets or weekly pew bulletins, which are used for one occasion only. If you are planning to compile a songbook or planning to load a group of songs on to your computer – both of which assume a long-term usage of the material –  you should discuss the copyright arrangements with the appropriate agency first.

When do you need a copyright license?

If you regularly print the words of songs or hymns in an order of service sheet, a pew bulletin, an overhead transparency or powerpoint presentation, you need a copyright license from one of the groups which covers worship material.

If you only print the words of hymns or songs in bulletins on special occasions, you may be better off paying a fee for a one-off or special use, rather than paying for a license which runs for a whole year.

The cost of an annual copyright license is based on average weekly attendance, and some licenses allow for a larger run of copies at Christmas and Easter time.

The cost of a one-off license is based on the number of copies you wish to make. The fee might be set something like 10c per copy or $15 per song. It depends on the company administering the copyright. Some companies ask that you send them a copy of the bulletin or service order. You may be asked to pay in American dollars or English pounds, depending on where the company operates from.

How do you choose the license that is best for you?

You will need to look carefully at the type of material you copy most often. No license will give you blanket cover, so you may have to buy more than one. Licensing agencies will not divulge the full details of the material they cover until you buy the license. You may get help from talking to other congregations and asking what they use — perhaps even asking to borrow the directory issued by their license company to see whether it covers what you want. The document mentioned above will help you with this.

Applying copyright requirements

First look for the owner or administrator of the copyright.

Recent publications show copyright holders or administrators very clearly, either underneath the words of a song, or in a section at the back of the book.

  • The Lutheran Hymnal with Supplement has a section called Acknowledgments on pages 911–913 of the combined (red) edition. The hymns are listed by number, and copyright for text and music is listed. If a hymn is not shown in that index, there is no copyright applicable and you may copy with impunity.
  • Check the last pages of All Together Now and All Together Again for a list of Acknowledgments. All Together OK, All Together Everyone, All Together Whatever, AT For Good and AT All Right list the acknowledgments under each song.
  • Together in Song lists copyright holders under each song. Please note: a list of hymns from TIS that are in the public domain and their lyrics can be downloaded here (pdf file).

If you have a copyright license, check the directory to see whether the copyright holder (which may be the author, the publisher, or an agency, such as Willow Connection) is listed. If the name appears, and there are no exceptions listed, you may go ahead and copy the material, showing the appropriate acknowledgment that goes with your license —you may need to quote your license number and the words Unauthorised copying prohibited, as well as the copyright symbol (©), the author’s name and the date the song/hymn was written. You may also have to show the date of printing.  Be sure to record your usage in the book provided if that is part of your copyright license. The license company uses your records to pay royalties to its authors, so it is absolutely vital that you record your usage faithfully.

If you do not have a copyright license, you may contact the copyright holder directly. Be prepared to make several tries at locating the copyright holder or administrator. Copyrights can be signed over to different people, and companies change names and addresses. Fortunately, these days most companies have fax numbers and sometimes email addresses, so you can get a fairly swift reply.

NB: The CAL directory of authors and publishers it represents is online – please see the table of contacts towards the end of this document. You can access this on-line directory without subscribing to CAL.

What information do you need to give?

When applying for permission to reprint, give the following

  • name of song in full (sometimes it will be known better by the first line, so give that too if it is appropriate)
  • the author’s name
  • the book from which you intend to copy it (publication details if possible)
  • what you wish to use it for, eg a wedding, opening of a church, concert, Sunday service
  • the date of the event
  • how many copies you will be making
  • whether or not the booklet will be for sale

What you will get back

You will be sent

  • an acknowledgment sentence which you must include: eg © 1975 Robin Mann. Used with permission
  • a license number,  which you must quote in the acknowledgment
  • notice of the appropriate fee
  • a form which you sign and return with the fee

Some companies ask you to send a copy of the publication.

It is advisable NOT TO PRINT anything until you have permission in writing. If you haven’t heard with a week of faxing or emailing, try again. Most administrators reply very quickly once they have received a request, so no reply could well mean your request has not arrived. In any case, it is always wise to have back-up choices! If you have tried every avenue to trace a particular author, and all you get are dead ends, and you are running out of time, include the words ‘Permission sought’ in your publication. Be sure to keep all your correspondence and notes of the sources you tried, just in case you are questioned. This is really only to be used in desperation!

How do you use this information?

The copyright acknowledgment should be shown at the end of every piece of reproduced work, and not in a blanket statement at the end of the booklet. Your licensing company’s manual will give a sample acknowledgment. It usually includes the name of the author, plus a statement like Used by permission… with the name of the licensing group and your license number.

Please read very carefully the terms and conditions for copying which are listed in the manual you receive when you take out your license!


Each of these licenses covers different styles of songs/hymns. You must decide for yourself which one suits your situation. The CAL license is very broad, but it does have a worship component and the LCA is still managing a group licence for those who wish to use CAL. CCLI (Christian Copyright Licensing International) covers a broad range of hymns and songs, and many of the songs in the Altogether books are covered by CCLI, as well as many modern songs, such as those popularised by the Hillsong churches. LicenSING covers a broad range of the traditional hymns and the more recent songs.

UPDATE: LicenSING has been taken over/replaced by ONE LICENSE. ONE LICENSE is jointly owned by GIA Publications (GIA) and Oregon Catholic Press (OCP). Participating publishers include OCP, GIA, Word of Life, Willow Publishing, Kevin Mayhew, CopyCare Pacific, Emmaus Productions and many more. Anything previously covered by LicenSING is now covered by ONE LICENSE.

What is the place of the National Office in all this?

The LCA National Office has undertaken to collect license fees from LCA congregations and return them in bulk to the CAL and CCLI agencies. Both of these groups offer ‘denominational licenses’, You pay a discounted price for the license, as well as a small administration fee, which gives the LCA cover for its publications, something we use at the annual Ordination service, or at General Synod services. LCA sends out reminder notices when fees are due, congregations pay the LCA, and the LCA remits the appropriate amount to the agency. These cover the reproduction of words only. While CCLI, for example, offers other licenses which can be used for worship (eg video, photocopying music), the LCA does not manage group licences in these areas. Congregations/schools who wish to use these licenses must arrange them directly with CCLI.

ONE LICENSE does not offer a denominational license, and each congregation signs up individually. Fees are paid directly to ONE LICENSE. Please see the table of contact details towards the end of this document.

The fact that the LCA administers CAL and CCLI licenses in no way indicates that congregations must automatically take out a license with one of these bodies. Each congregation must decide for itself which is appropriate for its needs.

Congregational license or parish license?

The license should normally be bought on a congregational basis, as the fee is based on the congregation’s average weekly attendance. A license based on parish attendance might mean a higher fee which might not be justified by the amount of copying done.

Robin Mann’s songs

Robin’s songs are arguably the most copied, in the Lutheran church and in other churches as well. Please consider the following comments about his works.

  • Robin understands that God is the giver of all gifts, including songs, and that these gifts are meant to be shared.
  • He would rather the songs be used freely than have some technical requirement (like a royalty payment) prevent such use.
  • He will not pursue anyone through the courts because of the illegal use of songs.
  • However, he is in the position of being a provider of resources for the wider church, without any salary or any assurance of payment. Like you, he needs money to survive. Therefore, you can support the work he does by being a member of LicenSing (or CAL or CCLI) and by keeping a good record of the use of his songs along with all the others you use when your licensing organisation requires it.
  • If membership of such an organisation is not possible for you, Robin is happy for you to make use of his songs (including printing, or overhead transparences) for the odd special occasion, eg wedding, confirmation, school graduation. If you find such ‘special’ use occurs with regularity, you might consider making a small donation to Robin for this use.
  • If you want to make any alterations to songs, to words or music, please contact Robin about it.


Material which is © Ateliers et Presses de Taizè (commonly known as ‘Taizè’) is covered by Word of Life (see table of contact details). They also cover a range of other authors and publishers, and offer an annual license. The booklet Music Copyright for Churches gives further information on this agency.

Making audio recordings of the Sunday service

If you make audio recordings of the Sunday service, please read the following carefully. The information is from The Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (AMCOS), which represents virtually all music publishers in Australia and New Zealand, and, by way of reciprocal arrangements with similar international organisations, the vast majority of the world’s composers, writers and music publishers.

AMCOS can grant a complimentary license to churches in regards to the audio or video taping of worship services. These are granted on a case-by-case basis. AMCOS requires in writing the intention of the recordings made by the church.

AMCOS grants the complimentary license if the following conditions are met:

  • that the recordings are only of services of worship
  • that the recordings are only supplied to ‘shut-ins’, ie those who are housebound or hospitalised due to being elderly or infirm and are unable to attend the service being taped
  • that the recordings are supplied free of charge

A congregation need only apply once for a complimentary license, unless its circumstances change.

For contact details, see the table towards the end of this document.

Please list the approximate number of recordings made (or number of services recorded) and an approximate number of copies made.

Video recordings and audio recordings fall under the same terms and conditions for shut-ins.

Please, if you make videos or audio recordings, do comply with this simple, one-off request.

What are the alternatives to buying a license?

  • arrange a one-off special license when it is needed (that means: contact the author or copyright holder directly)
  • if you use an overhead projector, buy the legitimate overhead transparencies where they are available, eg All Together OK and All Together Everyone
  • use the hymnals or songbooks owned by the congregation


It is not correct that

  • if a congregation owns copies of a songbook, it may make the same number of copies of anything in that book . You need only own one book (or sometimes two) to make as many copies as you need. Your license, which is based on average weekly attendance at worship, will limit the number of copies you can make.
  • a CAL license will cover a congregation for any copying it does. You need to check who owns or administers the copyright for every individual song or hymn you wish to print. Paying for a CAL license only allows you to copy what is covered by CAL. Since CAL is not a specialist congregational worship license, it covers a very small amount of worship material.

Final advice

  • The page lay-out also has a copyright owner. For example, Openbook Publishers owns the lay-out of the pages in the ‘All Together’ books. You must not simply photocopy a song or hymn from a book and cut and paste that into a bulletin unless you have the appropriate license that includes Openbook Publishers.
  • You must copy the words EXACTLY as they are in your original book. You must not add verses written by other people, nor must you change the wording in any way, without permission. Please watch this with Aubrey Podlich’s ‘Christmas Blessing’, which is regularly used at weddings with extra verses added. The song Brother, let me be your servant, is another good example. If you are copying from the Lutheran Hymnal with Supplement, you must use the words as given: Brother, let me be your servant, and not substitute the more recent change Brother, sister, let me…
  • Coping with copyright regulations seems, at first glance, to be a very difficult and complicated thing. You DO need to allow time to get permission for particular songs. It is important that pastors, secretaries, Sunday School/Kids Club teachers and worship leaders understand the need for forward planning when an occasion requires the publication of a special bulletin or order of service including hymns and songs.
  • It is the responsibility of the congregation to ensure that printed orders of service for weddings and funeral services held in the church comply with copyright regulations. Funerals, which are arranged at very short notice, are probably less of a problem, especially as people tend to go for well-known hymns which may well be in the public domain. When in doubt, use hymnbooks! Weddings are another matter altogether. Please, please, PLEASE check with the couple well in advance of the wedding ceremony which songs they want, and help them with their copyright requirements.
  • If/when you decide you no longer want to subscribe to a particular license, you must destroy any photocopying which was done under that license. This has implications if you have prepared service order booklets for long-term use, and you have included copyrighted material. Such booklets may only be used while you are paying for the license.


Name and address Type of licences Phone/Fax numbers Email address Website

Locked Bag 5000

Strawberry Hills NSW 2012

Playing and Recording music PH: 02) 9935 7900

PO Box Q20

Queen Victoria Building

NSW 1230

Copying sound recordings Ph: 02) 8569 1144

FAX: 02) 8569 1181

Level 15,

233 Castlereagh St


Copying Ph: 02) 9394 7600

Fax: 02) 9394 7601

Toll free (within Aust.) 1800 066 844

Go to for an online contact form

PO Box 6644


NSW 2153

Copying & some recording Ph: 02) 9894 5386


1800 635 474

Fax: 02) 9894 5701

Go to for an online form

PO Box Q20


Playing sound recordings Ph: 02) 8569 1100

Fax: 02) 8569 1183

Word of Life International Copying acquired by ONE LICENSE as of July 1, 2017
Australian Copyright Council

PO Box 1986

Strawberry Hills

NSW 2012

Further info about copyright and legal advice Ph: 02) 8815 9777

Fax: 02) 8815 9799

Please note the Legal Advice service is only available online- go to


Use of All Together songs in PowerPoint presentations

Putting the words of a song on computer for the purposes of a PowerPoint presentation is regarded under copyright legislation as being another form of reproduction. This means that the same principles apply as for other forms of copying.

If your school or congregation has a church copyright license, the license may allow you to make a digital copy of a particular song. If you are wanting to copy a song, you should look to see if the song is on the directory of the licensing organisation, and you should check to see whether the license allows copying for computer projections.

If your school or congregation doesn’t have a license, or your license doesn’t allow for copying onto computer, or the song you want to copy isn’t listed in your license directory, you must get permission from the copyright holder to make a computer copy. The copyright holder may or may not give permission, and, if giving permission, may charge a fee. Having copies of a book or a set of overheads does not entitle your school or congregation to make a digital copy of the songs.

Another matter that your school or congregation needs to consider is the way in which you make a digital copy: you can either do a transcription (key in the words of the song) or a publication (scan the words from a book). If the latter, you will need to make sure that you have a license that allows you to make copies from the book. If you don’t have a license that gives this permission, you must seek permission from the publisher of the book. The publisher may or may not give permission and would be entitled to charge a fee.

The normal conditions that apply to making copies of copyright material apply also to making a digital copy. The song should be correctly acknowledged. A licensing agency will normally indicate the proper form of acknowledgment. You should at least acknowledge the author of the song, the copyright holder (if different from the author) and the year of copyright. Particularly if you are scanning a song from a publication (eg one of the All Together books), the publication and the publisher should also be acknowledged. Under more recent moral rights legislation, the author of a song should be listed even if the song is out of copyright and in the public domain. Copies are non-transferable (they can’t be passed on to another party for their use) and must be non-commercial (not for the purpose of making money). Also, a copy is valid only as long as the license or permission under which the copy was made is current. If you failed to renew your license, for example, any copies made under that license, whether hard copy or in digital form, would no longer be valid and should be destroyed.

The best license for schools or congregations to have if they want to use All Together songs for PowerPoint presentations is ONE LICENSE or CCLI. CAL is not suitable, because it allows only photocopying. Most of the song writers represented in the All Together books are in the directory of ONE LICENSE and CCLI.

The information given here is believed to be correct at the time of writing. Questions on copyright may be directed to the Lutheran Church of Australia National Office, on 08 8267 7300.
More information is also available on the LCA website here.

An updated (2015) booklet that provides a guide for copyright references for The Supplement to the Lutheran Hymnal and the All Together songbook series can be downloaded here.



President’s Office

Lutheran Church of Australia

April 2002

Updated November 2009

Updated February 2015 and August 2017 by Trudi Skene, Secretary, LCA Commission on Worship