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Motion Picture License / Church Copyright License
Dec 2014

On 3 Nov, the Synod office arranged a talk by Church Copyright Licensing International (CCLI) and Motion Picture Licensing Company (MPLC). Mr Malcom Hawker, the Chief Operating Officer of CCLI and Mr John Louis, Managing Director of MPLC (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd and MPLC (Singapore) Pte Ltd were both excellent speakers; they were clear, informative and humorous. Their aims were to highlight the responsibility of the churches and the advantages of the Presbyterian churches collectively purchasing the licences under one umbrella licence, where basically each church will pay less.

What is copyright?
Copyright protects works like novels, computer programmes, plays, sheet music and paintings. Generally, the author of a copyright work has the right to reproduce, publish, perform, communicate and adapt his work. These exclusive rights form the bundle of rights that we call copyright thus enabling the owner to control the commercial exploitation of his work.

What has it got to do with us as a Church?
Copyrighted motion pictures and other programmes that are available for rental or purchase in any legal format are intended for personal private home use only. In other words, as a church, if we ever show videos, we have to be authorised to do so, in this case, by MPLC.

On the other hand, the Church Copyright Licence (CCL) covers a range of regular song lyric reproduction and projection formats. For instance, most churches would use song lyrics reproduction through data projection, overhead projector, or printing into the weekly bulletin. Hence it is clear that this is pertinent to all our member churches in PCS.

Thus, CCL is something which all churches will indeed need to purchase since the Copyright Act of Singapore demands we do exactly that in order to even reproduce the words of songs for worship and reflection. The MPL is not as crucial to many churches, as you hardly ever use the video. Note however that even playing a video once publicly requires a licence despite reasons like being a charity, not charging entrance fees or not opening to the public.


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