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Live streaming worship

Eucharist being live-streamed
Eucharist being live-streamed

I recently, on this site, expressed my irritation at the short-sightedness of the Church of England in providing poor-quality live-streaming of the enthroning of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and not making the video recording available on the web (cf. the Vatican). They appeared to forget that a third to a half of the planet would be sleeping or otherwise unable to watch if they wanted to.

In case you have forgotten, this is what greeted non-UK residents who wanted to watch the BBC recording of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s enthroning :

Archbishop of Canterbury enthronement

As if to rub salt into those nineteenth century wounds, the Church of England parish of All Saints Church, Twickenham, has recently started live streaming services. They have a facebook page.

They use Ustream, as regularly mentioned here (including by commenters).
They use a good HD camera.
Sound quality has been the only problem they mention.

They are not alone.

Well done All Saints Church and Fr Alex Lane.

Any other examples as well as any comments you want to add?

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6 Responses to Live streaming worship

  1. Actually, live streaming worship is a minefield that few churches have the resources to negotiate. Why? Because of copyright law. The Vatican is probably one of the few institutions that could get away with live streaming everything because it has its own copyright laws and probably is not a signatory to the Berne Converntion.

    For the rest of us there are the copyright issues around both texts and music, and what about the images the preacher is projecting onto the screen during the sermon? All of these need different licenses to use. Yes, there are some agencies that bundle permissions together, but do they have every item you wish to use? Following up individual pieces can be a logistical nightmare.

    There is also an issue with the service you might use. If it is a service funded (even if only a little) by ad revenue, then your live streaming becomes a commercial broadcast! This may include having Amazon affiliate links on your site, etc.

    Not that I want to discourage people from live streaming worship. And it may be easier to do in some countries than in others. But it is not something to do without a great deal of thought and preparation and a long visit with a lawyer who knows copyright law in your jurisdiction!

    Peace,
    Doug

    • Thanks, Doug. I imagine there were similar problems at the advent of the printing press. Certainly, once people moved from printed hymn books etc. to projecting, and even to printing different sheets for every service, there were copyright issues which were resolved creatively and simply. As the church begins to realise it is in the third (no longer in the second) millennium, someone will take what you here describe as a major problem and, like the projectors and printing changes, will turn it into a solution that will benefit both them – and the communities. Someone may read this and it just might be your light-bulb (Damascus Road?) moment. Easter Season Blessings.

      • Christ is risen. Alleluia!

        Infortunately I don’t think it is either as simple right now or will be, either.

        If most of us were honest, we would have to admit that our churches are regularly breaking copyright laws most weeks and there is no simple solution available today.

        For the range of hymns/songs available in just a couple of mainline hymnals today, it would be necessary to sign up for a minimum of two and probably three licensing agencies and NOT all hymns are covered by these arrangements. Do we check every week?

        And what about the text of the liturgy? Few of us give a second thought to the copyright of the text but our denomination may not hold the rights to reproduce all of it.

        It is easier if you are an evangelical church with a single style of music and no fixed liturgy. Most of your music is legally available through a single source (CCLI). But the rest of us using projection technology are breaking copyright law regularly!

        Performance, mechanical and broadcast licensing is much more complex. Fairly easy to do for a special service but much more difficult week in and week out. It is also more difficult when we acknowledge that with the global reach of the internet, even legal uses of a license may become illegal as soon as someone accesses your live stream from another country. That is why the BBC refused to stream the archbishop’s enthronement outside the UK.

        The problem is not a technological one or one of simply waiting for the right innovation. The problem is that copyright law (IP law generally, don’t get me started on patents!) is a two hundred year old dinosaur that is entirely unable to handle life in the 21st century. We may choose to go ahead and live stream, etc, but we will almost inevitably be breaking the law until the law itself is changed.

        Peace,
        Doug

        • You sounded very convincing, Doug, but unfortunately the chain of an argument is only as strong as its weakest link, and in your case that is your assertion that the BBC refused to live stream the archbishop’s enthronement outside the UK. It did not. His enthronement was watched all over the world and there were lots of comments about that, from all over the world, on the Liturgy Facebook Page associated with this site.

          As to copyrighting liturgical texts. Usage of my texts is clear. As are TEC’s rites. There’s plenty on this site about the deplorableness of tight copyright of Christian texts for common prayer. Not to mention the downright stupidity of it: our church lost control of the copyright of our own texts.

          Easter Season Blessings.

    • Let us know, Marian, if you set up live streaming – a comment on this post would help people find the link to your live stream when they search for “live streaming worship”. As for copyright I’m not sure why this should differently concern you. When you allow videoing at a wedding, funeral, confirmation, ordination, do you make all involved sign declarations that they not show any parts of this to groups of more than 20 or whatever, etc, upload any bit of it onto YouTube or similar, write each time for permission to Broughton Books (your Prayer Book publisher) as required, etc? etc? Easter Season Blessings.

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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