The law of copyright is complicated, and it prohibits both the recording and the public performance of a copyright work, unless the appropriate copyright licence has been obtained.

Arrangements have been made for blanket provision to record the marriage service (1662, and Common Worship services), the baptism service (1662, Common Worship services) and also the BCP Psalter, the revised Psalter and the Liturgical Psalter. The couple or parents do not have to obtain permission to make a recording of these services under these arrangements.

The blanket permission is given providing:

  • No rights in the recording shall be sold for commercial purposes other than to the couple who commissioned the recording.
  • No more than three copies shall be made of the recording.
  • The recording, or any extract from it, shall not be shown in public.

The above permission does not cover the recording of hymns, anthems, organ voluntaries and additional prayers. It is the responsibility of the couple to obtain permission to record all other copyright material used in the service. Permission must also be obtained to record the performance of any professional performers.

Special vigilance is recommended if the service has more than usual significance, e.g. when a public figure is involved, and the media are interested in it.

The incumbent has the right to refuse to allow a particular service to be recorded.

It is for the PCC to determine whether a fee should be charged for using audio or video equipment in the church. Any fees paid by either the couple or the recordist are payable to the PCC and not to the incumbent.

The fact that a performance of a recorded work is given to members of a private club or association does not render it a private performance. It is held that a private performance “is essentially of a family nature within the domestic circle.”

The incumbent is advised to issue the couple with the following notice, which is to be signed by the recordist, and returned to the incumbent before the day of the service.

See also our more general copyright guidance.

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