During these challenging times, when federal, state and local guidance and/or mandates are limiting the size of visitations and funerals, webcasting or livestreaming a funeral can be an excellent way for those who cannot be physically present at a service to still partake in the event,
NFDA offers a webcasting license that covers the copyrighted music in the ASCAP, BMI and SESAC catalogs. It covers services broadcast via funeral webcasting software, as well as other livestreaming platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Zoom, Vimeo and Skype.
If you do not currently have a NFDA funeral webcasting license, click here for more information and to purchase one.
List of Webcasting Businesses - Note: NFDA does not endorse these companies. This list is simply being provided for the convenience of funeral professionals.
NFDA offers sample legal forms that give authorization for funeral homes to webcast funeral services and direction to record funeral services.
Download the Complete Legal Packet for Streaming or Posting Recorded Funeral Services
Update: Facebook Muting Issues During Live Streaming of Funerals
NFDA has been notified of the “muting” problem that funeral homes are experiencing when streaming funerals over Facebook. We have been in contact with a BMI representative who explains that several years ago Facebook entered into agreements with song producers to resolve copyright infringement claims. These agreements require Facebook to mute streamings that are broadcast over the Facebook platform if the streaming includes music belonging to the songwriters. He further explained that BMI, ASCAP and SESAC are not parties to these agreements and have no way to modify them. In addition, Facebook cannot modify them unilaterally. So, unfortunately, there is no way to solve the muting problems with Facebook.
Funeral homes should also be aware that in addition to muting, a few funeral homes have reported that Facebook has terminated the live streaming of the funeral service while it was taking place. Over a year ago, Facebook instituted a new strike-based system to police live streaming over its platform. Every time Facebook deems that a user has violated Facebook’s policy, such as playing a copyrighted song during a live stream, the user receives a strike. At some point, if the user receives too many strikes (Facebook will not say how many), Facebook ups the sanctions by abruptly terminating the live stream. No warning is given by Facebook to the funeral home and there is no way for the funeral home to alert Facebook ahead of time that it has a webcasting license to stream copyrighted music.
As an alternative, the BMI representative strongly recommends that funeral homes use a specific funeral webcasting software platform or Zoom, Vimeo or Skype to stream funeral services over the internet. These platforms are not parties to the same type of music copyright infringements agreements that shackle Facebook. Your funeral home still needs a webcasting license from NFDA to stream funeral services that contain music. But, with using these services, the music will not be muted out as some funeral homes have experienced with Facebook.
Update April 17, 2020
Facebook and YouTube have entered into lawsuit settlements with music companies that prevent them from allowing some copyrighted music to be played over their systems. The blocking and muting is done by algorithms. Even though a member has a webcasting license to stream the music in their funeral over the web, Facebook and YouTube will mute it. If the user continues to stream the copyrighted music over their systems, eventually they will block the user from using the system.
NFDA worked on this issue several weeks ago and was unable to get Facebook to engineer a change. They claimed they were precluded from doing so because of the prior settlement agreements. NFDA recommends members use their own websites, or other streaming tools such as Zoom, Vimeo, or other commercial services, which do not have these copyright issues, to stream funerals.