A Need Becomes Evident

The Church Copyright Licence service was birthed in the music department of a large church called Bible Temple in Portland, Oregon, USA. It began in 1984 when the pastor first became aware of the Copyright Law and a pending $3.1 million lawsuit against the Archdiocese in Chicago. He asked his music minister, Howard Rachinski, to see what could be done about the copyright crisis.

In January 1985, Howard began to develop a “permission of use” concept, whereby churches could obtain blanket permission for specific copying activities, which he labelled “non-commercial”. It was called Starpraise Ministries and was to be CCLI’s predecessor.

By the end of the first year, 250 churches had become Licence Holders. By the end of the second year, 1150 churches had become members. It became obvious that the need for a church copyright Licence affected more than just a few churches and publishers.

Developing a Business Model

During August 1987, Starpraise Ministries was made aware of an organisation in the UK, the Christian Music Association (CMA) founded by Geoff Shearn, which had developed a licensing program that was able to include a broad representation of publishers to more than 2,000 churches. In that September, Starpraise Ministries and CMA met and several issues were agreed upon:

  1. StarPraise Ministries should not have publishing activities coinciding with licensing activities as this would be a conflict of interest.
  2. A licensing program needed to have as broad a publisher representation as possible.
  3. Licence fees needed to be affordable for the churches.
  4. Compensation needed to be fair to copyright owners.
  5. The future should include groundwork for an international network of church copyright licensing.

With the encouragement of the British CMA, Starpraise Ministries began the contractual and organisational formation of the Church Copyright Licence program.

In January 1988, Starpraise Ministries was incorporated and in April the corporation name was changed to Christian Copyright Licensing, Inc. The Church Music Publishers Association (CMPA) in the U.S.A. appointed an ad-hoc committee to meet with CCLI, leading to the endorsement by the CMPA of CCLI’s program.

From Humble Launch to Worldwide Impact

On October 1, 1988, with representation of 120 publishers, the Church Copyright Licence was launched. After 1 year, more than 9,500 churches had access to more than 200 publisher catalogues. In April 1990, CCLI expanded its operation to cover the churches in Canada. After 2 years of operation more than 23,000 churches were utilising the Church Copyright Licence.

On July 1, 1991, Christian Copyright Licensing Ltd. assumed the British CMA operation and began servicing more than 7,200 church Licence Holders in the UK and in 1994 this expanded to serve UK schools for their daily act of Collective Worship.

On April 1, 1993  CCLI started its licensing program in Asia-Pacific, initially covering Australia and New Zealand. And in June 1995, the program was expanded to cover churches in South Africa.

On September 1, 1997  CCLI began offering for the first time the Photocopy Licence, in Australia and New Zealand, to provide a way for songs (including the music) to be legally photocopied.

On February 1, 1998  CCLI expanded for the first time into non-English speaking countries with the launch of the Church Copyright Licence in the Nordic Countries. Initially the Nordic Countries Licence is operating in Sweden and shortly to be available in Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway.

On April 1, 1998 after four years of research and discussion with copyright owners the Music Reproduction Licence was offered for the first time to provide UK Licence Holders a way to photocopy musical compositions intended for congregational participation.

In 2001, CCLicentie, the joint venture company between Musi©opy and CCLI was established in the Netherlands.

In 2002 CCLI started to sell copyright licences to churches in Benelux.

In 2006 CCLI expanded into Germany.

In 2008 CCLI started in Singapore.

In 2009 CCLI Expanded into Brazil

In 2012 CCLI Started in The Republic of Korea

CCLI now serves more than 240,000 churches worldwide in worship. It was founded as a ministry of the Church and a service to the Church, to educate the Church about copyright laws, to protect the Church from the consequences of copyright infringements and to encourage greater utilisation of copyrights in Church services.