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Old June 21st, 2011, 04:39 AM   #1
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Churches charging for filming.

In the UK almost every church makes a charge to couples to have their wedding filmed. This can range from a nominal 20 up to 150 on top of the fees charges anyway by the church, and some will even double up the total bill to allow a video camera in the church. This is usually reasoned as being a copyright fee for the organist.

I have knowingly lost weddings at churches where the couple considered the fee to be excessive so they did not have a video. One in particular was at an internationally know church where they were charging 250 for copyright payment to the organist. That was on top of the fee he was already charging the couple to play at the wedding anyway.

Is this the case in churches where you operate, and if so what sort of charges are levied?

This has been brought to my mind by this newspaper article.
End of 'Ryanair' fees for church weddings where choirs and organists are extra | Mail Online

Last edited by George Kilroy; June 21st, 2011 at 05:16 AM.
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Old June 21st, 2011, 06:22 AM   #2
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Re: Churches charging for filming.

Hi George

This sounds very much like an Anglican thing....and it's coming pretty close to extortion!!! The organist is probably playing public domain music anyway...The Bridal March and such...I could maybe see the point if the organist had especially composed a unique piece for the bride!!!

I have never seen it here and more often than not the music in the Church is a CD from the bride...I have probably done only two or three that had an organist....!!

Soon couples will be looking elsewhere for ceremonies than Churches !! I often do outdoor/indoor weddings here with a Minister doing the ceremony so it doesn't have to be in a Church. Most of our Summer weddings are done by celebrants.

Hopefully this idea will NOT catch on!!!!

Chris
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Old June 21st, 2011, 06:43 AM   #3
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Re: Churches charging for filming.

Hi Chris.

When I started it was quite rare for churches to ask for a fee, but it really has caught on here, I don't know of any church locally that doesn't make some charge for having the ceremony recorded.
As I think you might know we are able to buy a licence here in UK which permits the recording of copyrighted material for use in wedding productions. I always present that at church rehearsals but, even though many vicars will look at it, they still charge the couple.

I have only once known a vicar to relent. At the rehearsal the bride's father was not happy at the prospect of paying out another 85 for the video, especially as I had shown the licence. He took it up with the vicar, questioning how my licence for including all the music I might record on the day was less than 20 yet the church was asking 85 for the half dozen tunes in church, which incidentally the playing fee for the organist had already been included in the fee they were paying, and the recording was covered in the terms of my licence. At first the vicar said that's just how it is, the Parish Council had agreed to add that amount to weddings that were filmed. The father expressed that he wasn't happy with that and would have his solicitor check the legality of it. The vicar then said if the father felt so strongly he could leave the video fee out of the payment until after the wedding and the vicar would consult with the Parish Council and organist. They never got back to him.

I'm not surprised that many couples are opting for civil ceremonies at hotels or country houses. In my experience, or at least those weddings I do get, the imperative for a church wedding is either a strong faith connection with the church or more often upholding a family tradition of grandparents and parents having been married there.

If you read the article I linked to you'll see this is not just a personal gripe, as churches seem to be pricing themselves out of the wedding market by adding and increasing charges for everything, including couples placing their own flowers in church.

Over the last five years my ratio of civil to church weddings is 5:1
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Old June 21st, 2011, 06:59 AM   #4
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Re: Churches charging for filming.

That's one of the problems with copyright. Because of lobbying by the record companies and movie companies, people are using any excuse to slap the term "copyright" and charge to make a buck or in your case a pound :) It might be completely different is someone was going to shoot the wedding and sell 1000's of copies or if a videographer wanted the organist to play the tracks numerous times for audio recording and/or video angles. So here's a question for you. Does the couple still have to pay if Uncle Joe is stilling in the pew with his home video camera? I shot my cousins wedding at the Flamingo in Vegas. The chapel wanted a fee if I was to be standing using a tripod and other equipment, but if I sat down the whole time I didn't have to pay a fee. They bought the video that the chapel produced and then I did a quick "rest of the story" video.
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Old June 21st, 2011, 07:09 AM   #5
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Re: Churches charging for filming.

David I'm sure it varies from church to church, but my experience is that once video is mentioned they will charge the fee.
One of the usual notices given by the vicar at the beginning of the wedding, usually before the bride enters, is that nobody other than the official photographer and videographer should use cameras during the ceremony. I have known a vicar to stop the wedding and ask someone to stop and at one last year I have got a shot of the vicar pausing just before the exchange of vows, looking into the congregation and wagging his finger and shaking his head at someone who raised a camera, then continuing.
They had paid a fee for me to be there so at least I had a good view of that.
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Old June 21st, 2011, 07:53 AM   #6
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Re: Churches charging for filming.

Hi George

Wedding Reception Centres are very popular here and they cater for the ceremony, photoshoot and reception...they have pristine gardens, one or two neat gazebos for the ceremony and a reception hall too.

As you can appreciate, it makes our job a lot easier too..drive to the venue, offload the gear (free parking of course!!) and do everything on site before going home at midnight!! We even have a few resorts that do a package so the bride and groom have accommodation so for me there is just one trip and no extra travelling at all!!!

As far as I know (from what brides have mentioned) the Churches here "appreciate" a donation for holding the ceremony and the "usual" is AUS$300 ... I have an idea the organist is extra!! That's a pretty fair price for a ceremony and there certainly has been no extra payments demanded for photo and video but with the lax attitude obviously guests can take photos and videos if they wish to...in fact the only real restrictions are that us official vendors cannot venture past the front pews except for the register signing.

Hopefully Churches there will realise they are losing weddings and come to their senses!!!

Chris
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Old June 21st, 2011, 08:17 AM   #7
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Re: Churches charging for filming.

My experience here, in Arizona (USA) is that churches ensure that their facility is ready for the ceremony and they often have a staff member help coordinate with the Bride or Bride's family and vendors. There is occasionally a modest fee or an expected donation.

My wife (an ordained minister) often performs religious ceremonies outside the church. We've done ceremonies in back yards, a Hilton Hotel, Golf Course, VFW, and most recently an out of town wedding at a turn of the century (built in 1895) hotel in Flagstaff, Arizona. Like the churches, each of these venues had some kind of fee with the exception of the back yard weddingsof course - and on them the FOB's were out plenty!

We have never seen a fee charged for copyright usage or for shooting video.
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Old June 21st, 2011, 08:22 AM   #8
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Re: Churches charging for filming.

Wouldn't the organist or church own the copyright of the performance (barring a work for hire contract)? Just like you own the copyright of your work, why shouldn't the copyright holder of the performance be compensated? Likewise for the venue.
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Old June 21st, 2011, 09:23 AM   #9
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Re: Churches charging for filming.

Hi Jim. I understand what you say and I fully support that, who doesn't want to get paid for the service they provide.
I was prompted to raise this by an article in one of our national newspapers today. It has been a slight irritant to me over some years as I know that the ever increasing fee does put many off having their wedding videoed. Now I know it's not a god-given right to have your wedding videoed but this additional doubling of the organists fee, over and above what the couple have to pay in church fees to get married (300 to the church), effects only videographers, so that is my vested interest.

Just to put it in context:
Firstly the organist is being well paid by the couple for playing at the wedding (the average for playing is 100, that's on top of the 300 church fee), neither organists or choir attend a wedding without getting paid, unless it's a favour to the family, they don't perform any extra or better because it's being videoed.

The organisation that controls copyright in UK have negotiated agreements with the Church of England to issued licences for recording music in copyright played at a wedding. I know that this copyright is different to the copyright the organist claims for his/her performance on the day.

The charges they make have no reference to the way the recording will be used, i.e. friends and family viewing only and are on the whole completely disproportionate to the number of copies that will be made and the number of viewings. I have never seen a sample on the internet that includes the as-recorded organ music, nor public events where people go to watch wedding videos.

I know that there are some renowned professional organists that play in churches who may feel justified in asking for a large fee, but on the basis of my experience they are few and far between. Judging by the number of bum notes I hear I think they may use the fee as a deterrent to being recorded.

It is a bit like me charging to make the wedding video, then saying "I'm doing charge you for the work involved but if you're going to show it to anyone else I will double my charge"

Just a footnote. I've never had a professional musician, be it singer, instrumentalist or quartet that has played at a wedding demand such a fee, nor bands that play at the reception, including some well known recording bands.

Last edited by George Kilroy; June 21st, 2011 at 09:54 AM.
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Old June 21st, 2011, 09:33 AM   #10
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Re: Churches charging for filming.

Good points and I'm not advocating, just raising a potential rationale. As money gets increasingly tight folks are going to look for revenue where they can find it.
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Old June 21st, 2011, 10:00 AM   #11
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Re: Churches charging for filming.

I think that the Church exploits the deference that much of the British public give to the clergy. Most people would not take issue with a vicar in church, especially over fees when planning a wedding. Not in the way they might negotiate a charge at a hotel.
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Old June 22nd, 2011, 02:06 AM   #12
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Re: Churches charging for filming.

Whilst I'm broadly sympathetic I think a little confusion has come into this thread.

The main one is the story which started it which was that the Church of England is going to double the fees it charges for weddings and standardise what's included. That will mean, for example, that the organist's fee is now included which is good in that it will restrict the growth of primadonna organists who demand more if they're on camera!

On the other hand it will allow the generally pisspoor quality of organ playing which is exhibited in the Church of England to remain unchecked. If anyone wishes to contest the fact I have countless examples, most of which never reach the clients because we overdub an excellent French organist we recorded some years ago.

Unfortunately the Church of England isn't a corporate body and much power rests and remains with the Parochial Church Council (PCC) which runs the individual or groups of churches. It isn't yet clear whether the central body will force all churches and their PCCs to accept the standard fee and that alone. Fine words and inaction are a honed skill of the Church of England.

More importantly, the interesting thing is that although the church is doubling the fee, it's likely that they will still allow some churches and PCCs to restrict what photos/videos can be taken or if they can be taken at all. In other words even though a bride pays double she may still not be able to have her wedding recorded. It's an odd way of encouraging more people to get married in church at a time when the number is already in steep decline.

However, all this is quite separate from the recording of live performance licence and the synchronisation licence for use of copyright music etc. These are and will remain separate.

What most people outside UK seem to be unaware of is that the Church of England (and probably all churches using a printed form of service), owns the copyright in those words.
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Old June 22nd, 2011, 02:13 AM   #13
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Re: Churches charging for filming.

Depending on how you shoot/edit the video, would the church music not come under the fair use exception for incidental music? Besides, If you edit it out or use a different song or recording (in Australia we can get a licence to use the original music for wedding videos) for the final video then I do not see where there is any breach of copyright.

My guess would be that they have very little legal ground to do this but, as you said, nobody is going to argue with a vicar in his own church.

Edit: Phillip, you posted while I was typing - are you saying that the Church of England owns the copyright to the words of the service and therefore has the right to charge a fee for the recording of those words? If so that makes more sense, perhaps not morally, but certainly legally. But that's a whole other debate!
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Old June 22nd, 2011, 02:18 AM   #14
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Re: Churches charging for filming.

Tis true, we've known fees to range from 0 to 500 to allow us to film the day. The argument is always that its for the organist, even if they dont have one. More annoyingly is that we dont actually show any of the organist playing or use their audio, its just not our style. As Philip says, we have heared some awful organists and its a shame to say this happens more often than not. Bum notes, out of tune yet they still command a fee. I know if our work was of that quality a refund would be demanded.
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Old June 22nd, 2011, 02:28 AM   #15
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Re: Churches charging for filming.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Wiley View Post
Depending on how you shoot/edit the video, would the church music not come under the fair use exception for incidental music? Besides, If you edit it out or use a different song or recording (in Australia we can get a licence to use the original music for wedding videos) for the final video then I do not see where there is any breach of copyright.

My guess would be that they have very little legal ground to do this but, as you said, nobody is going to argue with a vicar in his own church.

Edit: Phillip, you posted while I was typing - are you saying that the Church of England owns the copyright to the words of the service and therefore has the right to charge a fee for the recording of those words? If so that makes more sense, perhaps not morally, but certainly legally. But that's a whole other debate!
That's exactly what I'm saying John. Regarding your other point of using different music the key is the word "synchronisation" - plus AFAIK we don't have a fair use exception. The UK PPL licence which permits unlimited use of commercial music (without listing or specification) covers that.

Finally to enlarge on the question of the quality, the tuning of the organ should be the responsibility of the PCC and covered from the fee. I recorded a brass band in a church in France and the organ was out of pitch, though in tune with itself. The Assistant Bandmaster had an electronic tuner and measured the difference - and then re-tuned the entire band at the rehearsal so the two pieces the band was playing with the organ were worth recording. The quality of the playing in British churches is due to the dearth of competent players and churches have to take what they can - or (increasingly these days) invest in a juke box.
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