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Old October 1st, 2010, 01:27 AM   #1
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Church places restrictions on performance rights

We recently encountered the Vicar from Hell, ironically on our own doorstep. The Vicar and his assistant (who actually performed the wedding), were hostile, obstructive and dictatorial to everybody, especially the family of the bride, so it was no surprise when we were told that we could have only one camera at the front or side of the church and that with an eyeline to the groom!

In addition to all the usual licences and formalities the church required us and the bridal couple to sign an agreement that the material would only be used in the bride and groom's wedding video, only shown by them to private, non-paying audiences and specifically excluded any performance to any other person including on demos.

Of course the Church of England has copyright over the words of the service and the Assistant Vicar has her own copyright over her homily (though that was as poor as the organ playing - nothing new there in the Church of England) but I really wonder a) whether they have any legal grounds for imposing their conditions on say, the recessional party leaving the church with the sync sound overdubbed with a commercial recording ie copyright paid for and b) even if they did, why they did so.

Happily this example of negativity is counter-balanced by some super CofE vicars who couldn't have been more helpful and, once they recognised us as pros, cooperative. Sadly though the fact is that the number of weddings in CofE churches is declining year on year. I can't imagine why.
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Old October 1st, 2010, 01:45 AM   #2
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Hi Philip

Was that the same vicar that gave the gospel group a hard time????

I think soon we will have to advise brides that they WILL encounter issues with Church weddings!!! Luckily with our super weather, most brides select an outdoor ceremony and also a lot of ordained priests are more than happy to do a christian ceremony at a commercial venue.

This is worth keeping an eye on when brides make an enquiry and soon you will have to say "subject to the permissions given to us by your Church" Yes we would be happy to do your wedding!!

One would think that with Church attendances in decline, they would be looking at relaxing the rules!!!

Better emigrate to Perth, Philip...we have no issue here!!!

Chris
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Old October 1st, 2010, 01:55 AM   #3
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Hi Philip !!!

Now if you put yourself in their shoes for a bit, can you come up with any possible reason that makes sense for this, other than some weird and twisted desire to push their authority over people ??? I don't know about over there, but here there's not much of a black market for bootlegged sermon footage. :-)

Was there a photog there too, and was he under the same demand as well ???

The only two reasons I can come up with for exerting one's right to the use of one's image and voice is to protect it, or hide it from being known.
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Old October 1st, 2010, 02:55 AM   #4
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I too think it's to 'to push their authority over people'. I was always under the impression it was god's church, the peoples' church, not the vicar's. My guess is the priest is simply up2here with scruffily dressed, wandering videographers who crash about, show no respect and burp loudly in the quiet bits.

I too have met vicars who couldn't have been more helpful. A couple of years ago one of them took one look at my kit and said that a man toting a Sony Z1 could stand anywhere he liked. I smiled at his recognition.

tom.
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Old October 1st, 2010, 02:57 AM   #5
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A third concern may be that they see clips from wedding ceremonies turn up on Youtube or in tv out-take shows and are worried that any little slip will appear out there for the world to see.

I'm not supporting their view, see my recent unobliging priest post about Father Philip, just trying to find a reason for this recent change in attitude by some clergy.

On the reverse side. I recently had a form forwarded on to me by a couple from their church with a list of rules of conduct for photographers/videographers, including where photos could be taken (outside) placement of videocamera (one only) in church, in a side chapel. no use of microphones (radio or static) no lights etc.
When I turned up on the day it couldn't have been more different. The vicar let me pick my choice for main camera and helped me move a piano to better place a second one. No problem with mics. He couldn't have been more pleasant and helpful.
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Old October 1st, 2010, 03:11 AM   #6
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Chris, yes it was, and Chip, the photographer was under the same geographical stricture as our other two cameras - penned into a single area at the back of the church, though I don't know if he had any usage restrictions placed on him. And the restrictions went far beyond the Vicar's image, voice or words.

I'd like to avoid placing the acquisition of permission on the bridal couple because I've found that I can usually convince the Vicar in a face-to-face meeting that we won't behave in any way that will detract from the solemnity and dignity of the ceremony. It's also good to see that as well as other horror stories, other readers have, like me, found wonderful Vicars who deserve to thrive and to preach to packed churches.

We all know of the ill-behaved unprofessional idiots who make things bad for the rest but I'm afraid that to answer Chip's rhetorical question, I think they'd argue that they're protecting their copyright (and I wouldn't question that) but it also, conveniently, restricts public awareness of their Draconian attitudes.

The bride's father (who'd been on the point of explosion at the rehearsal) was livid when the Assistant Vicar ended her ceremony with a plea for money to help with the 2000 per week upkeep of the church. And you could understand his point because he'd just paid over 1000 for the 45 minute service.

I'd love to have the time to create a blog on which people could place their own experiences of good and bad venues. I'm told that in the UK a complete defence to a charge of libel is absolute truth so with that proviso maybe we could be offering a public service, naming the great and the ghastly.

Finally, Chris I think the rules are different here in the UK - as far as I'm aware whilst ordained pastors can perform in any church of their denomination, only civil ceremonies can be performed in other premises. These have to be licenced (ie specific rooms or locations, not just the XYZ Hotel) and I believe these ceremonies can only be performed by licenced registrars and assistant registrars and there can be no reference anywhere in the ceremony to any religion or belief, nor can any of the music played be considered "religious". This is, of course, a grey area - Pachelbel's Canon would seem to be OK but a registrar recently forbade the playing of Ave Maria.
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Old October 1st, 2010, 06:13 AM   #7
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Wow!! the rules are certainly different here!!! There are none of the old "registry office" weddings here and civil weddings are performed by authorised celebrants (I think a short training course and exam is what they do to get qualified) They are allowed to marry, christen, do funerals and even do commitment ceremonies (same sex marriages are not legal here)
They can use ANY venue they want to...reception/function centres, public parks (with council permission) and even your back garden. They indeed use religious music and can refer to Christian terminology during the ceremony to...more often than not readers will use biblical/religious text during the ceremony.

Any Minister of any Church can also do outdoor ceremonies..I have done beach weddings with a priest and park weddings with an Army Priest !!! Ministers can also use other denomination Churches for the ceremony so we have quite a neat and above all, harmonious setup here!!!

The main reason people use Churches nowdays is more for the architectural appeal of the building rather than it's religion.

I'm shooting a wedding in the morning with the bridal party on the edge of the putting green of one of our big golf clubs.

Chris
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Old October 1st, 2010, 06:48 AM   #8
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Church places restrictions

"Of course the Church of England has copyright over the words of the service and the Assistant Vicar has her own copyright over her homily..."

Sounds like a good reason to start a new country. Whoops, we already did that! ;-)
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Old October 1st, 2010, 08:34 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Chris Harding View Post
Wow!! the rules are certainly different here!!! There are none of the old "registry office" weddings here and civil weddings are performed by authorised celebrants (I think a short training course and exam is what they do to get qualified) They are allowed to marry, christen, do funerals and even do commitment ceremonies (same sex marriages are not legal here).........Chris
Boy...that's a lot of hoop jumping to just be able to marry some couple.

Become a minister and Get Ordained | Online Ordination | Online Church | Universal Life Church

You can just call me Reverend Chip now. :-)
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Old October 3rd, 2010, 03:39 AM   #10
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If you encounter poor customer service in any other field you would complain to the manager so why not take this up with his bishop?
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Old October 3rd, 2010, 03:42 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Philip Howells View Post
Of course the Church of England has copyright over the words of the service
The Book of Common Prayer is over four hundred years old I think this means that it is well out of copyright now.
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Old October 3rd, 2010, 04:17 AM   #12
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Nigel, you make two points but both I think are a little inaccurate.

The Book of Common Prayer was published in 1662 (348 years ago) but most of the churches use much more recent versions (what my mother used to call "talking to God as if he was the postman or the butcher") and they're certainly in copyright.

Secondly, I'm less certain of the precise rules here, but I think that the practical decisions regarding the way the individual churches administer things like photographer's rights etc are in the mandate of the Parochial Church Council, the chairman of which is usually the Vicar.

I'm sure you're right about the upward line of responsibility being to the Bishop but but I think they would regard these matters as "local concerns".

Having said that I am co-author of a piece on this subject in one of the wedding magazines published recently; my hope is that the Church of England, the part which spends money on stands at wedding fairs, will respond and add their weight to a campaign based on mutual reasonableness (and if that isn't a word it ought to be!) I think we both have the responsibility to point out and thank those many excellent pastors who do their best to see that all interests are respected, to note those professional video and still people who behave with appropriate decorum and recognise the dignity of the occasion and to congratulate the vast majority of couples who recognise that parts of their wedding are serious emotional and legal ceremonies and that getting married isn't one giant chocolate fountain.
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Old October 3rd, 2010, 11:08 AM   #13
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I have had a couple of issues this year. One, a female vicar, telling me in no uncertain terms that during this "solumn occassion" no sound will be allowed to be recorded whatsoever. This brought the bride to tears at rehearsal. Of course as soon as I got outside I told the bride not to worry and all would be well.

And only last week I had a bride, who had booked me a couple of months ago, phoned me to tell me that Sherborne Abbey wanted a further 300 from he because she was having a video. They said it was a performance copyright issue and that the organist wanted paying extra because his music was being recorded.

Rather than lose the booking ( she phoned to cancel) we met half way and I lowered my fee by 150.

Videographers are much better behaved in church than 90% of the photographers I know, ( who move about all service) yet we are the ones to get the grief.
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Old October 3rd, 2010, 12:38 PM   #14
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I'm never surprised by these topics - what does surprise me is that people book a venue without shopping around for the best package - wedding (not video). People choose the church because it:
Looks pretty
Is in a suitable place
or any number of quite daft reasons.

In the old days, you got married at your own church. Now you get married in a photogenic venue that just happens to be a church. You make vows that are linked to religion, yet you have no intention of doing what you say, and when the vicar suspects you are going to turn his/her church into a secular activity, you can't blame them for being less than helpful. I've a strong suspicion that members of their congregation don't have these problems. Many people think they have some kind of right to behave however they like in any venue they pay for, as if the money means they can disrespect it freely. It doesn't.

Perhaps it would just be better for them to say no to wedding bookings, but I suspect that the income is handy.

If the vicar says no recording of the vows, I personally think it's unprofessional and morally crooked to do it in secret.

I rather the like the list of rules that tries to prevent people doing things the vicar listed - but weddings are business now, and seem to have little to do with the ceremonial elements.

I'm going to San Francisco for a wedding in a week or two, and there things are very different. A friend of the couple is taking out the license to perform the ceremony, and it will be an event designed by the bride and groom - only having the bits in it they want.

Seriously for a moment - isn't there a real law that prevents certain elements of a wedding (civil or religious) being recorded? Something to do with the signing of the register? I got married in 82 and although I had a video (one of the very first VHS portable recorders) the vicar allowed a posed section for video on photographer 'pretending' to sign the register, he wouldn't allow the actual signing to be recorded in any way. Didn't Charles and Diana's wedding also not feature the register being signed - that was done in a private room? I've heard registrars say the same thing. Obviously, many do allow it - but is there some legal issue here?
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Old October 3rd, 2010, 01:04 PM   #15
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Paul, I'm not aware of any problems of the type you mention in the Chrch of England - I think Charles and Diana might be something exceptional.

What I do know is that Registrars are invariably very protective of the information - not of the bride and groom being married but of the other people whose details share the same page of the the documents. They seem to think Z1s and DS3s have lenses that can spot missing 4inch tiles on a Space Shuttle flying 25,000 miles above us and regard themselves (probably accurately in legal terms) as protectors of the data in the registers.

In the CofE there are no registrars of course (the minister has that legal right/responsibility) and frankly I've never had a problem. Mind you, we tend to consider the singing of the registers as primarily a photographing event and only cover it with video as a formality.
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