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Covert Video Recordings Of Weddings


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So I can't encourage you to elucidate your observation, then?!

 

Do I need to do so? One has only to take a cursory glance at, for example, the Church Times, the 'Ship of Fools' website, or the reported comments of various bishops to gain the impression that its mainstream has run its course.

 

No need, in my personal view, to get involved.

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Do I need to do so? One has only to take a cursory glance at, for example, the Church Times, the 'Ship of Fools' website, or the reported comments of various bishops to gain the impression that its mainstream has run its course.

 

No need, in my personal view, to get involved.

 

Yep, the Ship of Fools website has caused me much amusement! Just hope neither of my churches get visited..... :rolleyes:

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I hasten to add that most of the cases arising under Canon B20 have not tested the law over these things. They have almost all been Employment Tribunal cases with preliminary issues over jurisdiction/status. (i.e. whether the organist is self-employed or employed.) Therefore all of this is merely untested opinion, though we can derive some guidance from similar situations in other jurisdictions.

A perennial problem with our system of law, the need for definitive action in the courts, I suppose. Far too often, as we all know, these things are sorted out to the dissatisfaction of most parties.

 

It remains my view that a properly drafted agreement/contract with the minister, including the PCC as the paying party, can prevent almost all of these problems arising.

However, that does rather assume the competence, etc., of all three. If it be present then, I suppose, the whole thing would work and be the best solution.

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Guest Barry Williams
A perennial problem with our system of law, the need for definitive action in the courts, I suppose. Far too often, as we all know, these things are sorted out to the dissatisfaction of most parties.

 

 

However, that does rather assume the competence, etc., of all three. If it be present then, I suppose, the whole thing would work and be the best solution.

 

 

One of the purposes of a contract is to enable parties to continue to function during disagreement. Far too many contracts/agreements do not include provision for this basic aspect and assume, against human nature, that everything will always be fine.

 

Litigation is best avoided. I know. I do it for a living.

 

Barry Williams

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Guest Patrick Coleman
One of the purposes of a contract is to enable parties to continue to function during disagreement. Far too many contracts/agreements do not include provision for this basic aspect and assume, against human nature, that everything will always be fine.

 

You are right here - as I would expect if you do that sort of thing for a living!

 

For any agreement to work properly, the parties must take each other seriously. Several of the comments here seem to betray attitudes that would favour litigation should anything go wrong. I stand by my view that both clergy and organists who don't maintain a respectful attitude to wedding parties should not expect the wedding parties to respect their rights or dignity in return. If you look down on them for their choice of music or showiness or any other reason, I don't see why they should be expected to bother worrying about what - from their point of view - are finicky little moans about camcorders.

 

RANT ALERT Some of the new 'Conditions of Service' the Church in Wales hopes to introduce could allow us to be seen - officially - as a sort of service industry. The intention is to promote professional relationships in ministry; the effect would be to create a rights-based culture rather than a relationship-based culture. The wedding business can be precisely that, if we're not careful: take the fee, bugger the respectful relationship, render a service and then walk away. Now there's a reason not to take the Church seriously!

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Canon B20 gives the minister the absolute right over all the music. Any agreement between the couple and the organist could not override the Canon. Therefore any agreement that did not include the minister could (and probably would) be unenforceable, except insofar as it related to matters unconnected with Canon B20, such as subsequent copyright.

 

Barry Williams

 

 

 

............Oooooooooh I can't wait until the next Royal Wedding when Wills or Harry want "take me up the ******* and Badger me by Fartwangler and the Bucketheads"

 

....a well-known rappin' piece, don't ya know!

 

 

Let's see how far Canon B20 gets with this one.....

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Guest Lee Blick
take me up the ******* and Badger me by Fartwangler and the Bucketheads"
:rolleyes:

 

I think you are getting confused with "I gotta a brand new combine harvester" by the Wurzels, dear.

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Guest Barry Williams
You are right here - as I would expect if you do that sort of thing for a living!

 

For any agreement to work properly, the parties must take each other seriously. Several of the comments here seem to betray attitudes that would favour litigation should anything go wrong. I stand by my view that both clergy and organists who don't maintain a respectful attitude to wedding parties should not expect the wedding parties to respect their rights or dignity in return. If you look down on them for their choice of music or showiness or any other reason, I don't see why they should be expected to bother worrying about what - from their point of view - are finicky little moans about camcorders.

 

RANT ALERT Some of the new 'Conditions of Service' the Church in Wales hopes to introduce could allow us to be seen - officially - as a sort of service industry. The intention is to promote professional relationships in ministry; the effect would be to create a rights-based culture rather than a relationship-based culture. The wedding business can be precisely that, if we're not careful: take the fee, bugger the respectful relationship, render a service and then walk away. Now there's a reason not to take the Church seriously!

 

 

 

I agree with this.

 

Hector5 has stated quite clearly how to give a satisfactory service, though I wonder whether his global fee includes commercial videos i.e. those where the couple pay the recordist and do not retain the copyright.

 

His choir seems underpaid. Some places charge £50 per singer (and they are not particularly good) with a compulsory attendance of twenty singers.

 

Due respect for those who seek the offices of the church is always appropriate, even when the apparent commerciality seems to exceed the spirituality. They may come to appreciate the latter in later years.

 

 

Barry Williams

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Guest Hector5
I agree with this.

 

Hector5 has stated quite clearly how to give a satisfactory service, though I wonder whether his global fee includes commercial videos i.e. those where the couple pay the recordist and do not retain the copyright.

 

His choir seems underpaid. Another place a few miles away charges £50 per singer (and they are not particularly good) with a compulsory attendance of twenty singers.

 

Due respect for those who seek the offices of the church is always appropriate, even when the apparent commerciality seems to exceed the spirituality. They may come to appreciate the latter in later years.

Barry Williams

 

 

Yes - my fee includes commercial videos, although there is an 'EPIC' clause, insomuch as, if the musical requirements go outside the basic 3 hymns, anthem, bits of organ music, then the meter starts running. Extra rehearsals for visiting instrumentalists, singers etc must be costed as an extra. I try and be as accommodating as possible, but the reality is that I have to earn a living in the same way as the flower people, caterers, disco etc. While we are ultimately providing a service which contributes to an experience which encompasses the spiritual, I am afraid that for weddings (and to a degree, funerals as well) business MUST come first. In saying all of this, I am confident that I give value for money - I am fully qualified and can play pretty much most things, and to a very high standard. On the other hand, all organists are entitled to the recognition of the effort they put in. I think that all wedding and funeral fees should be negotiated by the organist with the families, a contract provided (I do this), deposits paid to secure services, and the balance paid just before the wedding. I am never unhappy at the fee, as I always negotiate them myself. Allow most incumbents to negotiate on your behalf and the chances are that you will be underpaid, disgruntled and unwilling to go the extra mile. It's amazing just how much job satisfaction you get if you are happy with your lot, and for the bulk of the time I really enjoy what I do.

 

Hector

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RANT ALERT Some of the new 'Conditions of Service' the Church in Wales hopes to introduce could allow us to be seen - officially - as a sort of service industry. The intention is to promote professional relationships in ministry; the effect would be to create a rights-based culture rather than a relationship-based culture. The wedding business can be precisely that, if we're not careful: take the fee, bugger the respectful relationship, render a service and then walk away. Now there's a reason not to take the Church seriously!

 

I had the impression, from earlier listening to some CofE clergy, that the church, or at least their bits of it, were actively pursuing the wedding business to try to wrest it away from hotels, stately homes, local authority services, etc.. That seems to me to be akin to promoting the service industry view of the whole affair.

 

I don't know how successful they have been or will be in achieving this aim. (I have no view on the wedding couples, just detest playing for weddings - so, being no longer a church organist, happily, I don't do it.)

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Canon B20 gives the minister the absolute right over all the music. Any agreement between the couple and the organist could not override the Canon. Therefore any agreement that did not include the minister could (and probably would) be unenforceable, except insofar as it related to matters unconnected with Canon B20, such as subsequent copyright.

 

The same problem arises when PCCs attempt to appoint an organist/director of music, etc. They simply do not have the power, which is why no organist etc can be appointed in an interregnum. (It is possible, however, to have a limited contract with the PCC that expires on the appointment of the minister.)

 

I hasten to add that most of the cases arising under Canon B20 have not tested the law over these things. They have almost all been Employment Tribunal cases with preliminary issues over jurisdiction/status. (i.e. whether the organist is self-employed or employed.) Therefore all of this is merely untested opinion, though we can derive some guidance from similar situations in other jurisdictions.

 

It remains my view that a properly drafted agreement/contract with the minister, including the PCC as the paying party, can prevent almost all of these problems arising. Far too few organists have such contracts/agreements. As mentioned before, Robert Leach and I are not altogether happy that the standard formats make sufficient provision for all concerns in this modern age of technology.

 

Barry Williams

 

Thanks Barry, Just caught up, having been away a few days. If a contract between organist an couple negotiated separately from the church, as Hector mentions, only deals with the fact you're going to turn up, play the organ and be videoed, or not...etc. would that fall foul of B90, presuming that the actual choice of music is mainly discussed between the Minister and the couple, with advice from the organist?

Sorry that's not all that clear, but you should see where I'm coming from.

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Guest Barry Williams
Thanks Barry, Just caught up, having been away a few days. If a contract between organist an couple negotiated separately from the church, as Hector mentions, only deals with the fact you're going to turn up, play the organ and be videoed, or not...etc. would that fall foul of B90, presuming that the actual choice of music is mainly discussed between the Minister and the couple, with advice from the organist?

Sorry that's not all that clear, but you should see where I'm coming from.

 

Although a separate contract is possible, it is rather impractical, though I have a vague recollection that the ISM published a form of contract for weddings/ baptisms. Such separate contracts are desirable when a paid video recording is taken but, as I have mentioned before, it is possible to have an agreement with the minister, including the PCC, that encompasses all the points needed.

 

It is my experience that many organists have no written contract at all.

 

Robert Leach and I hope to be offering a modern form of contract/agreement for organists (free) in the next few months.

 

Barry Williams

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Just lately I've been wondering if it would be appropriate to let the organist/choir/bellringers go "self employed" and only charge the church/verger fees. That way the organist of the parish can command his/her own fees, and thrash out matters pertaining to videos, music, choir etc. I've shared this idea with some of my colleagues who think that it may be quite a good idea.

 

I can't help wondering if there should be a difference between a professional videographer recording the service, and dear old Aunty Mary (or some other guest) bringing the camcorder along to catch a few moments of the service and for the most part capturing usually a good view of the back of the bride and groom. What with the advances in digital photography and cameras which can take short video clips I would have thought that it is almost impossible to police without creating a scene.

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Guest Barry Williams
Just lately I've been wondering if it would be appropriate to let the organist/choir/bellringers go "self employed" and only charge the church/verger fees. That way the organist of the parish can command his/her own fees, and thrash out matters pertaining to videos, music, choir etc. I've shared this idea with some of my colleagues who think that it may be quite a good idea.

 

I can't help wondering if there should be a difference between a professional videographer recording the service, and dear old Aunty Mary (or some other guest) bringing the camcorder along to catch a few moments of the service and for the most part capturing usually a good view of the back of the bride and groom. What with the advances in digital photography and cameras which can take short video clips I would have thought that it is almost impossible to police without creating a scene.

 

 

Robert Leach and I have discussed the issue of organists' 'self employment' many times. We are of the view that the effect of Canon B 20 is to make the organist an employee of the minister, irrespective of the wording of any agreement, though the usual ISM/GCM/RCO/RSCM agreement brings the PCC in as the paying party.

 

Two points arise on self employment: firstly, one loses the protection of the Employment Rights Act 1996 against unfair dismissal , so it is no longer possible to take a minister to an Employment Tribunal on summary termination of the post. (The PCC would invariably be joined as a party in any such action in an Employment Tribunal.) The second point is that there is little advantage for tax purposes in being self employed because the cost of travelling from home to church and back is never admissable under Section 74 Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988.

 

In respect of videos, there is, of course, a world of difference between the paid video recording and a friend or family member. I have dealt with this and the problems of 'policing' videos recordings earlier on the Board Discussion.

 

Barry Williams

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Robert Leach and I have discussed the issue of organists' 'self employment' many times. We are of the view that the effect of Canon B 20 is to make the organist an employee of the minister, irrespective of the wording of any agreement, though the usual ISM/GCM/RCO/RSCM agreement brings the PCC in as the paying party.

 

Two points arise on self employment: firstly, one loses the protection of the Employment Rights Act 1996 against unfair dismissal , so it is no longer possible to take a minister to an Employment Tribunal on summary termination of the post. (The PCC would invariably be joined as a party in any such action in an Employment Tribunal.) The second point is that there is little advantage for tax purposes in being self employed because the cost of travelling from home to church and back is never admissable under Section 74 Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988.

 

In respect of videos, there is, of course, a world of difference between the paid video recording and a friend or family member. I have dealt with this and the problems of 'policing' videos recordings earlier on the Board Discussion.

 

Barry Williams

But if the organist's "self employment" pertains only to weddings and funerals (as opposed to regular Sunday duties) then surely that would be a better arrangement all around. It would give the organist/choirmaster etc freedom to charge an appropriate professional fee in much the same way as a limousine drivers/wedding cake makers/dressmakers/undertakers etc charge their fees independently of the church. After all, we don't tell the cake-maker how much to charge for making a wedding cake, so why should we tell the organist how much s/he's worth at a wedding or a funeral? Surely that is their own business and not that of the Church.

 

I would have thought that legal minds could draw up for the parishes a suitable working contract protecting the rights of all concerned. :lol:

 

QB

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Guest Barry Williams
But if the organist's "self employment" pertains only to weddings and funerals (as opposed to regular Sunday duties) then surely that would be a better arrangement all around. It would give the organist/choirmaster etc freedom to charge an appropriate professional fee in much the same way as a limousine drivers/wedding cake makers/dressmakers/undertakers etc charge their fees independently of the church. After all, we don't tell the cake-maker how much to charge for making a wedding cake, so why should we tell the organist how much s/he's worth at a wedding or a funeral? Surely that is their own business and not that of the Church.

 

I would have thought that legal minds could draw up for the parishes a suitable working contract protecting the rights of all concerned. :lol:

 

QB

 

 

I fear that the arrangement you seek to make could be regarded quite differently in law. The reality is that a 'contract' that made an appointed organist with the implicit rights to pay at all weddings and funerals, 'self-employed' for just weddings and funerals, would be construed by any court as being an artificial arrangment. It has been tried before and failed!

 

There are vast differences between the cake maker and the organist. For example, the cake maker has financial risk and is not part and parcel of the church organisation, as an organist is. The cake maker is not appointed by the minister with the agreement of the PCC, etc. There are about twenty or so other tests that are used to arrive at a view as to whether a worker is self-employed or an employee. Needless to say, there is a great deal of complex case law on this.

 

The organist would still not get tax relief for the travelling expenses and the minister would still have the right to decide who should play and what music should or should not be played, under all circumstances.

 

As I indicated above, Robert Leach and I are working on a form of agreement that we hope will do most of what is required.

 

Barry Williams

Barry Williams

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I fear that the arrangement you seek to make could be regarded quite differently in law. The reality is that a 'contract' that made an appointed organist with the implicit rights to pay at all weddings and funerals, 'self-employed' for just weddings and funerals, would be construed by any court as being an artificial arrangment. It has been tried before and failed!

 

There are vast differences between the cake maker and the organist. For example, the cake maker has financial risk and is not part and parcel of the church organisation, as an organist is. The cake maker is not appointed by the minister with the agreement of the PCC, etc. There are about twenty or so tests other tests that are used to arrive at a view as to whether a worker is self-employed or an employee. Needless to say, there is a great deal of complex case law on this.

 

The organist would still not get tax relief for the travelling expenses and the minister would still have the right to decide who should play and what music should or should not be played, under all circumstances.

 

As I indicated above, Robert Leach and I are working on a form of agreement that we hope will do most of what is required.

 

Barry Williams

I guess that a lot of this would depend on whether or not one was an organist friendly priest.

:lol:

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Yesterday I played for a wedding which was clearly being recorded on a camcorder by one of the wedding party, although he was trying not to make it look too obvious. When I received my fee after the service, there was no video fee included. The vicar said that the bride and groom informed him that there would be no videos taken of the ceremony, although he said that he did suspect that this particular person was using a camcorder, and that he spoke to this fellow beforehand to inform him that he wasn't allowed to use his camcorder unless an additional fee was paid.

 

This sort of thing has happened several times this year despite the fact that the bride and groom are always told that they should ensure that no recordings are made of the service unless the additional fee is paid beforehand. Unfortunately, with human nature being what it is, people often try to get away with paying less than they should.

 

I've lost out on several video fees this year and wonder if anybody else on this forum has encountered this problem and - better still - found a solution to it!

 

Ah, the days of playing for lots of weddings...

I used to play for a church with a no video policy and sometimes it would be abused, though the curates who tended to take the services were very good at putting the situation across to the couple. It really came about because professional men would arrive at the crossing of the church just before the bride would enter and start fussing about (the choir and organ console were placed here too) and usually bother the organist with requests for things etc..so they banned it.

On one occasion after the ban, I noticed a person at the back making a recording and so I walked down and asked him to stop, he denied it at first, but as I pointed out to him that he had a big red light on the front that came on when recording, it was pretty obvious why I was speaking to him. After a few more words, he quietly put it away!

The curate and the choir thought I had gone down to threaten the chap as he put it away so quickly....adding that as I was 6' 6'' and robed up, I was a pretty daunting prospect. They all agreed that if I had done the same to them, they would have put it away and run out of the church.

 

Incidentally, we had a policy of 8 boys and 6 men to a wedding and felt that the boys got paid well, a double fee seemed to be too much. We therefore compromised and took a blanket fee (it started at £50 and went up over the years) which went to the choir fund, and we all were happy.

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Guest Patrick Coleman
Ah, the days of playing for lots of weddings...

I used to play for a church with a no video policy and sometimes it would be abused, though the curates who tended to take the services were very good at putting the situation across to the couple. It really came about because professional men would arrive at the crossing of the church just before the bride would enter and start fussing about (the choir and organ console were placed here too) and usually bother the organist with requests for things etc..so they banned it.

On one occasion after the ban, I noticed a person at the back making a recording and so I walked down and asked him to stop, he denied it at first, but as I pointed out to him that he had a big red light on the front that came on when recording, it was pretty obvious why I was speaking to him. After a few more words, he quietly put it away!

The curate and the choir thought I had gone down to threaten the chap as he put it away so quickly....adding that as I was 6' 6'' and robed up, I was a pretty daunting prospect. They all agreed that if I had done the same to them, they would have put it away and run out of the church.

 

Incidentally, we had a policy of 8 boys and 6 men to a wedding and felt that the boys got paid well, a double fee seemed to be too much. We therefore compromised and took a blanket fee (it started at £50 and went up over the years) which went to the choir fund, and we all were happy.

 

Common sense breaks out... :rolleyes:

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks everyone for the good advice.

 

I don't think that the vicar would agree to having the video fee automatically charged, alas. When he agreed several years ago to charge RSCM rates for weddings, it was done reluctantly as he was concerned that potential wedding couples would be put off coming to church to be married if they had to pay more for it.

 

At last week's wedding, he announced to the congregation that camcorders should not be used "due to copyright", but I guess Auntie Maude could still be hiding her camcorder away under her cardigan!

 

I still like the idea of a blanket double fee, though...... :huh:

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Guest Barry Williams
Thanks everyone for the good advice.

 

I don't think that the vicar would agree to having the video fee automatically charged, alas. When he agreed several years ago to charge RSCM rates for weddings, it was done reluctantly as he was concerned that potential wedding couples would be put off coming to church to be married if they had to pay more for it.

 

At last week's wedding, he announced to the congregation that camcorders should not be used "due to copyright", but I guess Auntie Maude could still be hiding her camcorder away under her cardigan!

 

I still like the idea of a blanket double fee, though...... :rolleyes:

 

It is a great pity that the incumbent felt it necessary to give the congregation incorrect information to enforce his position. It is not, of course, merely a matter of copyright. Though that may well be involved, it is unlikely that the church or its officers would have any involvement in the copyright situation.

 

As I have written before, these matters are best addressed in a formal contract between the organist, minister and PCC. Regrettably, many of the contracts in force were written and effected well before the advent of the camcorder.

 

Incidently, I played the organ for a friend's wedding a couple of weeks ago. The family requested no videos and none were taken. The congregation sang heartily and listenened to the choir anthems with rapt attention. It was a super event.

 

Barry Williams

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