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Licenses Q & A

Before venturing into the licensing options World Library Publications has available, you may want to review the following valuable information regarding the use of copyrighted material.

One of the biggest questions you may have is “When do I need permission to copy something for myself or on behalf of the church I represent?” While the question and the task may seem overwhelming, it is less complicated than you might think. It is our hope the following questions and answers might update, or inform, you regarding the reprinting of copyrighted material.  

Q: We are a church and a not-for-profit organization. Do we need to obtain reprint permission in order to make copies of music or text and other material for our church bulletins or song sheets?

A: Yes. Everyone, regardless of taxable status, must obtain permission to reprint any copyrighted material before it can be copied, printed, recorded, or videotaped. It is safe to assume that you will need permission until you find out otherwise.

Q: What if someone else prints our bulletins or worship aids for us?

A: It is ultimately your responsibility that all reprint permissions are obtained as needed, whether you obtain them yourself or contractually agree that your printer will obtain them.  

Q: If I buy a songbook or hymnal or subscribe to a missal, do I have the right to copy music or text from those resources for my congregation?

A: Purchasing or subscribing to a missal or hymnal publication does not include the right to reprint. Unless you have a license from the copyright owner, you must have permission before you can use any copyrighted material in any manner. You should be aware that a publisher may not own or license all of the material contained it its publications, and you cannot reprint another individual's or entity's copyrighted material from that publication without their permission. 

Q: I don’t understand. If I subscribe to a missal or buy a hymnal, and I have an annual license to reprint from that book, why can’t I print everything from the book?

A: Most publishers incorporate a variety of materials from many different copyright owners to add to the richness, diversity, and usefulness to the product.  Materials not owned or licensed by the publisher with whom you have a license will need separate reprint permission.

Q: How will I know if an item is under copyright?

A: Usually the material will have a copyright notice printed below it or possibly in the back of a book, along with contact information for the copyright owner. If there is no copyright notice, you can obtain that information by contacting the publisher of the book or resource. 

Q. I have a WLP Annual Reprint License. If that gives me permission to reprint all the WLP-owned materials I need to over the course of a year, why do I have to report my specific usage as well?   

A. Composers, authors, and artists often make their living and support themselves and their families or religious communities through their creative work. WLP recognizes the value of their fine work and we do our best to compensate them fairly for it. When you report your usage, we are able to more accurately determine how and where their music, text, or artwork has been used and pay them accordingly. It is a legal issue and a justice issue so be good to your fellow musicians and ministry colleagues and report your usage accurately and in a timely fashion. The Usage Reporting Form available through the link at the left makes the process quick and painless.

Q. My choir wants to record a CD to give away as part of a parish anniversary celebration. Do we need permission to record the songs we want to include?

A. Absolutely. Recording of copyrighted materials is regulated by federal law, and whether or not the recordings are sold, you must obtain a mechanical license from the copyright holder for each song.

Q: I understand that I need to get permission before I can use any material that is under copyright. How do I get the permission?

A: Call or e-mail the publisher of the hymnal, missal, songbook, etc. and request permission to use the material. Most publishers have permissions or licensing departments to handle these requests. If the publisher does not own the copyrighted material and therefore cannot grant reprint permission, it will likely supply you with the contact information for the actual copyright holder.

Q: What if I can’t find a contact in the book, and it has long been out of print?

A: You may contact WLP’s Permissions Department or the permissions department of many other publishers. Internet search engines also may be helpful.

While this may be a condensed version of copyright instruction, it is the intent of World Library Publications to assist you in “doing the right thing” when using copyrighted material. Our goal is to educate the public as well as to compensate the composer, author, or artist justly for their creative work.

WLP offers many different licensing agreements to suit your needs. If you can't find the information you need on this website or need help determining which license is right for you, contact our full-service licensing department at