When a loved one dies, getting to hear one of their favorite songs can bring comfort, providing you a familiar connection during a difficult time. But playing or performing the music isn’t so easy. There are rules to follow – federal copyright laws and streaming licensing agreements – aimed at protecting those who created the music.
If you plan to play music during a live streaming funeral service, proceed with caution, experts say: Many streaming services use software that detects copyrighted music, and can suddenly mute the sound -- leaving those watching in limbo -- if the software believes there's a licensing violation.
To prevent that, check with the streaming service you plan to use to see what restrictions they have regarding playing music. (And know those restrictions change frequently.)
Another method to avoid conflicts: have the funeral home or other experienced service provider set up the stream. Many of them use specialized streaming services that include the needed licenses that allow streaming of music at the service.
Funeral homes may purchase a webcasting license from the National Funeral Directors Association, which authorizes them to live stream funerals over the internet that have copyrighted music, says Scott Gilligan, the group’s general counsel.
But those licenses may not cover do-it-yourself streaming. NFDA says its members have seen issues with streams on Facebook and YouTube in particular. To avoid lawsuits from music licensers, those services used automated tools that detect copyrighted music, then mute the audio from that video stream.
That had led to unwanted surprises for families trying to stream a funeral - while the video remains, all audio from the service is blocked.
To avoid that, use a third-party streaming service or the funeral home's in-house streaming -- and ask directly about music licensing. If you still want to stream the service without using an outside service, you can eliminate any pre-recorded music from the ceremony.
If you choose to have the funeral home handle the streaming service, check about costs. Depending on the funeral home, you may be asked to pay a fee; it may be included in a funeral package you purchase; or it may be free. Regardless, any costs must be disclosed.
How to Live-Stream a Funeral or Memorial Service