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 What Media Can I Legally Use for Free?

Any music that is your own original work can be used. However, there are several other options.

If the image, video, or music was created by someone else, you are required to comply with copyright law by obtaining permission from the person(s) who created it, both the original work (for example, the composer and lyricist of a song) and the derivative work (e.g., a third party's rendition of it) you wish to publish. They may also require payment to use the media.  Once permission is obtained and financial matters are settled you are free to use the music.

There are also many sources for free or public domain music (See FAQ: “Where Can I Find Music for My Website?) If you find media on a site and the website specifically states that you are welcome to use the media free of charge and without a license, then you can use that media.  Also, any music, literature or art in the public domain are allowed to be used.  For example, it is safe to assume that the older hymns (75 years of age and older) are in the public domain and are free to use. So, you could record yourself singing Just As I Am or produce a video of the original Christmas Carol and put those on your website.  Keep in mind, however, that this does not apply to recordings, video, or reproductions of these works or any copyrighted arrangements or variations of the media.

For example, Amazing Grace is a song and poem in the public domain and you are free to use it, however, a recording of Michael W. Smith singing Amazing Grace would be copyrighted and you would need to obtain permission from Michael W. Smith and his record label to use that recording of the song.  Similarly, Chris Tomlin’s Amazing Grace, My Chains Are Gone is a copyrighted arrangement of Amazing Grace.  So, you would not only need to get permission to use Chris’ recording of the song, but you would need permission to use a recording you made of yourself singing the song.  Even though Amazing Grace is in the public domain name, Chris Tomlin’s arrangement is copyrighted.

The final option is to purchase the music specifically for website purposes. There are many sites that offer website background music and there are many individuals that provide free-lance production services for this purpose. We recommend a web search for further information.

You can find more information about copyright at the US Copyright Office:

 Where Can I Find Music For My Website?

There are some websites that offer musical selections that are either public domain (the copyright expired — many older hymns fall under this category) or they are original pieces of music that are given away freely as a ministry. Here are some free resources to try. Please be considerate and follow the website's usage instructions:

If you want to use popular music found on a CD or heard on the radio, you'll probably be required to pay royalties every time someone visits your site. For more information, you will need to research the individual situation for the song you wish to use.
 Why Can’t I Hear Anything?

It could be one of several things. This is how to figure it out...
  • First, make sure your speakers connected and are turned on and the volume for your computer (and your speakers if applicable) is turned up.
  • When you go to the page with the music on it, look at the very bottom of the page. Do you see what look like the controls to a CD player? If not, your web browser does not have the capability to play those music files. You may need to install the latest version of Windows Media Player. Recently, some people have reported a conflict between Windows Media Player and Apple's QuickTime. Another possible solution could be to uninstall QuickTime.
  • If you do see the controls for the CD player at the bottom of the page, is there a sliding bar that appears to be moving? If not, click what looks like the play button to see if that makes the music play.
  • If the sliding bar is moving on the controls of your web page, do you hear music on other pages with audio? If you do, then that probably means the song you selected for that page is not working correctly - try selecting a different song.
  • If you don't hear music on that page or the other pages of your website and you see CD controls on both, it probably means there is a problem with your computer's sound such as the speakers or the volume settings. Try visiting other sites which you know have music on them and see if you hear that music.
  • One last possibility... if you see the CD controls on the bottom of this page, the sliding bar is moving, and you are sure your computer's sound is working because you can listen to CDs, check the volume controls for your computer. With Windows, there are separate volume controls for Wave, Synth, CD, and Line-in. MIDI volume level is controlled by the "Wave" setting.
 I Have a Tape/CD I want to use on my site.  How do I do that?

Recorded music and sermons cannot be converted into MIDI music files. Recorded music files in formats such as MP3, .wav, Real Audio, and Windows Media are supported by Gold, Silver, and Bronze hosting packages (not Free or Starter sites).

There are three basic steps to including a tape or CD recording on your computer:
  1. Create the audio file on your computer.
  2. Transfer the audio file to your account on the server.
  3. Update your website to link to the audio file.
To create the audio file from a CD, follow these steps: If you are using the Windows Media Player to rip songs from a CD, start the Windows Media Player. Right-click on the Rip tab, move your mouse down to “Tools” and then over to “Options.” On the window that pops up, click the “Rip Music” tab. Select “MP3” for the format, and move the Audio Quality to “Smallest Size” (128 Kbps). Put the CD into your CD player and click the “Rip” tab. MP3 files will be created in a sub-folder inside you’re My Music folder.

To do pseudo-streaming of MP3 files, you will also have to create a text .m3u file for each audio file. Use a text editor such as Notepad, enter a single line with the URL of the audio file, and save that file. For example, if I have an audio file at I simply put that address into Notepad and save it as Track1.m3u. You can also list more than one file in the m3u text file. They will be played sequentially as you have them listed in your m3u text file. This allows you to break up very large audio files into smaller files and then have them play as one file for your visitors or create compilations of songs. Just list the smaller files in order in the m3u file.

If you are using RealProducer to create RealMedia files or another MP3 encoder, use the instructions that come with that software.

To create the audio file from a tape, follow these steps: First you'll have to connect a tape player to the "line in" input of your sound card. If you want to create a Real Player file, then follow the instructions and help provided with RealProducer or the MP3 encoder software after you've downloaded and installed it. See previous question, "What software to I need?"

If you would like to create a .wav or .mp3 file, any audio recording and editing software will do. We recommend the free software Audacity.

For more information about creating digital audio files, please see the following Christian Web Trends blog article:

To upload the file to your website, see the instructions “Uploading Media Files” in the media section of the help files.

 I have a video tape/dvd I want to use on my website.  How do I do that?

There are three basic steps to including a tape or DVD recording on your computer:
  1. Create the video file on your computer.
  2. Transfer the video file to your account on the server.
  3. Update your website to link to the video file.
For more details and tips on how to put the video on your website, please check out the follow blog article from the Christian Web Trends blog:
 What is Flash?

Flash is a term that actually refers to 2 different things. A Flash animation is a specially created file and the Flash Player is the “engine” that plays the file in a website.

The Adobe Flash Player is a widely distributed multimedia and application player created and distributed by Macromedia (a division of Adobe Systems). Flash Player runs the “SWF” files that can be created by Adobe and other third party software tools. The Flash Player was originally designed to display 2-dimensional animation, but has since become suitable for creating applications, streaming video, and audio. It uses special “vector” graphics to minimize file size and create files that save bandwidth and loading time. Flash is a common format for games or animations, and is embedded directly into web pages.
 Where Can I Get Flash Objects?

As is often the case, there are many websites that offer flash designs for a fee. However, certain Flash elements such as buttons, small animations, and even games are becoming more and more available without charge. A thorough search of the internet can often produce great results when looking for a special animation or someone who can produce what you are looking for at a minimal cost.
 Can I put a flash header into my template?

The short answer is “yes”. However, this project is for more advanced web or graphic designers. The reason for this is that the files that make up a template are often “sliced” into several small sections that make up an entire template. Editing these sections can be tricky due to the overlap and size differences that can result. Adding a flash header may require space that is simply not available with just one “section” and the animation itself may be cutoff.

If you would like a flash header installed for your template, OurChurch.Com can provide that service for you with our Flash Header Template service.  You can order this through your admin page. 

*Note: Modifying and customizing a template requires advanced html skills.  OurChurch.Com highly recommends that you do not attempt this yourself.  If you decide to try to customize a template yourself and have difficulty, OurChurch.Com does not provide support to fix those issues.

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