Integration with CCLI API

edited November -1 in Development


Are there any plans to integrate OpenLP with the SongSelect API? It looks like several other pieces of software are now using it and from the screenshots it looks far more usable than using the website to search, download and import. See for examples.

I have a decision to make about what software to switch to at church. It looks like you've done a great job on OpenLP and I'm very tempted to suggest we start using it, but SongSelect integration is a big reason for switching to something new. I'd like to know if this is planned and what the timeframe is. Maybe I can lend a hand.

Thanks for a great piece of software (as far as I can tell :-)).

-- Carl


  • edited September 2012

    I might as well reply to my own comment with some more info I've found.

    A post on the EasyWorship forums [1] suggests that to use the API, developers must pay a fee. Obviously, this would not make sense for OpenLP since it's free. An older post on the OpenLP dev mailing list [2] claims that in order to use the API, developers need to sign a non disclosure agreement. This would probably not be possible in the case of OpenLP since it's open source.

    I'd like to hear more about this. At the moment it looks like CCLI are being uncooperative. I understand that they need to support their work financially but one would hope they would appreciate the spirit of OpenLP and work with the dev team to help them provide a great piece of software to the community.



  • edited September 2012

    Hi carl,

    You are correct, we chatted to the guys at CCLI but they want us to sign an NDA and embed a "secret" into our code, which will obviously be visible to everyone (because our source code is open to anyone) and therefore break the NDA. They also want something like $1000 per year which even the smaller commercial apps cannot afford.

    Having said that, you can import downloaded SongSelect files into OpenLP, though this is obviously a more long-winded approach than integration with their API.

  • edited September 2012

    Thanks for confirming, Raoul.

    It's disappointing. I thought CCLI were here to provide a service to the community, not make lots of money. Now I can't decide whether I should go for one of the "bigger" commercial apps for the convenience, or use OpenLP in order to take a stand against companies that seem to be trying to make as much money as possible. (Of course, I don't really know the reason behind the charges, maybe they really need to charge that much to cover their costs.)

  • edited September 2012

    Disappointed to hear someone bashing CCLI as "making a ton of money" as if the service they provide is somehow self-serving.  As one who respects copyright law, I can tell you that NOT having to deal with ASCAP and BMI in court over copyright violations is a good thing.  CCLI is a great middle-ware provider as a clearinghouse for copyright royalties that all of us, ministries included, MUST pay for public performances - at least in the USA.  Just becuase you can download a copy of a song (lyrics or track) off the web does NOT make it free for performance in your church, or any other venue but your shower. :)

    Recording artists, even spirit-filled ones, have the option to copyright a song or not.  If they choose to copyright it, they are to get royalties for performances by others of that song. If they did not want the royalty, they would let the copyright expire and make it public domain. 

  • edited September 2012

    CCLI is a great advantage over the alternative, and that would be for your church to need to secure rights individually from each music publisher, which in some cases is difficult, because you see a song Published by Company X in 1974, but X sold all their rights to Company Y in 1985 when they went bankrupt, Y then merged in 1996 with company Z.   A worship leader will find it impossible to secure rights to all songs and hymns.  This then puts you into a copyright liability situation, a single charge of copyright violation can bankrupt a church just with legal fees. 

    For me, I tried a few programs, including commercial ones, and decided on openlp, and the download a .usr file and import it is good enough, for the 3-4 songs a week I really need.  I really didn't find $500 worth of advantages in the commercial offerings, if a church feels it's worth the $500 to get the API, they are free to do so. 

    If I had the extra money, I would sign the NDA, pay the $1000 and black box a library around the CCLI code so that we would have it available.  


  • edited September 2012

    Hi James,

    Expressing disappointment at CCLI is not bashing them. I am just as disappointed with CCLI as Carl is, and I agree that they need to focus less on the money. I have chatted to them personally, and I can attest that they hold on to their money. They were not willing to budge an inch from their position when we chatted to them.

    By the way, copyright is not the same thing as licensing. You can copyright something, but choose to allow people to copy it for free, or you can choose to restrict it so that people must pay you to use it. Copyrighting something does not instantly mean earning royalties.

  • edited September 2012

    Hi folks,

    I'm glad this has prompted a few responses :-) Nonetheless, I didn't mean to bash CCLI and I certainly appreciate the service they provide in terms of managing the licensing of songs. It saves a lot of people a whole load of time and money, and that's great. I admit I don't know enough about the company or licensing in general to judge their decisions.

    However, from an end user's point of view and from a developer's point of view, it's a shame that there isn't a more convenient way to get to the data that we can already access via the website. Even a programmatic way to access the copyright info (without the lyrics) would be great because nobody I work with can be bothered to look up, copy, and paste the correct copyright info for the songs we display. Yes, that's illegal, yes, they're doing sloppy work, and no, I don't know that it would make a difference, but it might.

    Financially, I also don't see that this is the best solution. They are basically preventing smaller software companies from being able to compete, not to mention open source solutions which, even if they could afford the license, wouldn't be able to sign the NDA. That's a shame because open source developers are doing a great service to the community, usually for no charge. Excluding them in this way puts them and those who use their software at a disadvantage. If the API was made public (what's the point of it being confidential?), anyone could write software for it. And if CCLI need to make money from it, either to support the development of the API or simply because they're a business aiming to make a profit, then they can charge individual users for it. As far as I can tell, albeit without having all the information, everyone would win that way. All software developers would be on an equal footing, users would have more choice, and those who want to (or can afford to) use the API can choose to pay an extra subscription fee. CCLI would probably make more money out of it and wouldn't have to worry about keeping anything confidential.

    So, I'm glad CCLI provide the service they do, I understand that they need to charge in order to keep running, but it seems there are better ways to do that :-)

  • edited September 2012

    I don't beleive anyone here has intentions of bashing CCLI. They make things much easier for churches to comply with the law and also provide a great product in the Song Select service. We use Song Select also for a reliable source of sheet music and it is a great product. But, it is just that a product. CCLI serves the interest of song publishers and artist and not that of churches. Churces are simply the market that their products are aimed towards. I feel like its important to realize that in a discussion about them and what they offer. Just as a local carpet outlet might provide carpet for your church it doesn't mean they really have the best interest of your church in mind it simply means they need to sell carpet.

    I have no particular gripes with CCLI in general and I do think it would be nice if they were slightly less profit motivated but seems to be the world we are in at the moment. I think it is also a little bit of a slap in the face when they do treat their API as they do.

    However, to the point, I started from scratch recently with our song database and downloaded around 150 songs from Song Select and imported them all at one time and it worked very easily and took me in the neighborhood of 30-40 minutes. So for that amount of time I would HIGHLY suggest you spend your church's funds elsewhere and just use the web download of the song files.

  • edited September 2012

    I can see reasons for an NDA, probably CCLI had to hire someone to write code for their website to make this work, and whomever did that, didn't want the code available made public.   However there is no reason why it couldn't be a library, where they make the finished library available for different platforms.  I agree it would be better to charge for access to the API to the end user, just as you can have access to various forms of Song Select. 

    There are ways around this though, you can always set up a fund to raise the money for OpenLP, if 100 users each donated $10 then you have the $1000 for the year.  If 500 users each donated $10 then you would have it paid for the foreseeable future.  Someone can offer to sign the NDA and write some black-box code in a library and compile it as a .dll or .so file depending on platform, so that OLP simply calls a get_ccli_song function from the library without knowing what that function does.  Of course you might need a open_ccli and close_ccli function as well, to sign on and sign off.....


  • edited September 2012

    If people were to donate money towards this feature then we'd feel honour bound to both 1. Complete the work (we're struggling to get the manpower to just get bugs fixed atm) and 2. Support the library going forward. 

    Now what happens if the developer who signed the NDA decides to leave the project, and the CCLI change their API? We're suddenly in a bit of bother.

    Also what happens if suddenly the $1000/year pot runs dry, or we exceed 5000 calls per hour and need to find $2500? Or CCLI puts their prices up? Again those who have already paid will have lost out.

    Of course someone could just volunteer to take the pain all of this as a separate side project to OpenLP, which OpenLP could just interface with. (Although now I'm wondering how tight the agreement would be with CCLI.. could someone write a library which could be used by several different projects? )

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