Protect your church from copyright breaches

Showcasing sermons through YouTube clips and film screenings is common place in digital ministry, which also means the ever-present risk of inadvertently breaching copyright laws.  To legally cover your church and avoid financial penalties for copyright breaches have a look at the Big Studio Movie Licence (BSML).

BSML is an exclusive cover for churches in Australia and New Zealand to screen films and clips from major studios including Warner Bros, Disney, Roadshow Films and Sony. A full list can be found here.

There are a number of instances where churches have inadvertently breached copyright when showcasing film segments to illustrate sermons or biblical questions. An example of this is a church in Australia screened a YouTube for a sermon illustration, this clip contained copyright material. Due to this the copyright owner rightfully sought compensation for the use of the content.

Heritage Films Marketing and Communications Manager, Olivia Burnett, that the increase of copyright breaches are due to lack of education around copyright law in churches and the increased use different communication mediums.

“Regardless of whether a church is caught, if permission has not been granted to use a literary, music or film work, and it gets used, it is a breach in copyright,” said Ms Burnett.

For an annual price, through the BSML, congregations are able to access major movies to assist in their digital ministry; something that Ms Burnett said can be an important way to illustrate the Good News.

“Jesus told stories so often throughout His ministry to communicate a profound truth and we believe storytelling through film, can have that same capability,” said Ms Burnett.

BSML covers 70% of films compared to CLSI Licence. Compare the two licences here.

To find out whether the BSML is the right cover for your congregation, you can fill out the Compliance Survey .

Further information

What is considered copyright via Australian Copyright Council.

Melissa Stewart

(This article first appeared in Insights Magazine)

Adrian Drayton

Adrian Drayton is the Director of Reel Dialogue. A film critic and commentator on culture for 20 years, he believes in the power of cinema and the power of God to start conversations about faith and culture. He is also a massive Star Wars nerd.