OCP offers commercial licenses, mechanical licenses, hymnal/songbook licenses, as well as reprint permissions for various types of music. To help you get started, below you’ll find numerous blogs and videos offering information on when you need a license, the different types of licenses available and how to acquire these licenses.

Guide to copyright and licensing

Many older songs and hymns have now become part of public domain, meaning that they can be used freely without risk of copyright infringement. However, if not in the public domain, whether the works are religious songs or secular songs, users will need a license for music. Users will also need a license to copy lyrics or to print songs. Obtaining permissions for music can seem daunting. But we’re here to make it easier!

A copyright is an intellectual property that belongs to a copyright holder. Only the copyright holder or administrator of that copyright has the legal right to use the work, or to allow someone else to do so. “Church copyright law” or “Christian copyright law” is no different than copyrights for secular music. All creative works are protected under federal copyright law, and all institutions are forced to comply with the laws regarding the use of song lyrics and song sheets, along with the printing and copying of said music.

A person wishing to use copyrighted material must secure permission from the copyright owners or the administrators of the copyright. This source can be determined by looking at the copyright information usually appearing below the work — generally a copyright symbol (©), a year, and the name of the copyright holder (often songwriter, music creator, composer or artist) or administrator.

OCP makes it easy for you, the music user, to obtain reprint permissions and usage rights for our quality music. Music supervisors, worship leaders and church musicians can use music licensed through our site for a variety of purposes, including music performances, radio and motion picture. Access to sheet music, audio files and other parts of copyrighted music are made available for congregational singing and are charged depending on the institution, the average weekly attendance, types of licensing, etc. However, these permissions do not allow for music distribution and music obtained through OCP may not be reprinted for personal use or sold to a third party.

We also offer our quality music in the form of digital libraries, available with an annual subscription fee as opposed to multiple license fees. A music library’s goal is to offer the music user seemingly unlimited music without the risk of copyright infringement. You’ll find music from entire resources, complete with digital octavos, instrument parts and audio files.

 Here is a list of licenses we offer with examples of how they might be used:
  • Permission to Mechanically Reproduce Musical Work
    ie. producing a new recording of an OCP song for use on a CD or MP3 Album (for sale or not for sale)
  • Permission to Reprint Musical Work
    ie. for use in a physical product that is produced for sale
  • Permission to Televise/Videotape Musical Work
    ie. for a TV show or a televised Mass
  • Permission to Broadcast Musical Work (Audio Recording)
    ie. for a radio station
  • Permission to Reprint Music for a Workshop
    ie. in handouts at an educational event
  • Permission to Use Music for a Public Performance
    ie. at a youth convention, play or concert
  • Permission to Reprint Musical Work onto CD-ROM
    ie. in a digital devotional created and sold to the public
  • Permission to Broadcast Music via Internet
    ie. in a podcast, YouTube video or digitally streamed Mass


After your request is approved, a copyright license will be mailed back to you. Included in the mailing will be the date of approved use and all applicable copyright notices to be used in your reprinting or recording of the requested works. All licenses must be obtained prior to reprinting.

How to report song usage for livestreamed Masses

Many Masses are now a digital experience, with the congregation worshiping from home with a livestream or podcast. Song lyrics and melody lines of copyright music used during a digitally distributed Mass, whether live or pre-recorded, require not only a license, but song usage reporting as well. Song usage reporting can be easily done through your license provider.

Joining a livestreamed or downloaded podcast allows at-home parishioners to participate in Mass from home. Mass livestreams are hosted on parish websites or on YouTube channels, and shared with those at home for viewing. Check out OCP’s Resources for Home to find links to upcoming live Masses.

Sharing song lyrics or melody lines for copyrighted music used in livestreamed and podcasted Masses requires licensing. Licensing for OCP music is done through ONE LICENSE, which also provides files for song lyrics and assembly sheet music. Reporting the music used afterwards is done through the license provider. Visit your license provider’s website to learn more about reporting specifics.

OCP music can be searched and reported using ONE LICENSE’s Report Usage feature. Select a week to report music for, and being selecting the individual pieces of music. Search by title, hymn tune or composer to find music. You can also select a worship resource and song number to find a specific version of a title.

Once you have selected the music used for livestreaming and indicated the number of uses, you can submit that information to ONE LICENSE. Reporting weekly music usage allows license providers to accurately distribute royalties to composers. By consistently reporting the music used for streamed liturgies, these composers are able to continue their ministry and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Learn more about usage reporting by watching a more detailed reporting tutorial on ONE LICENSE.


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