Hymn-books, projectors and copyright &c

On 23 November, the Daily Mail carried the story End is nigh for hymn books as churches go hands-free with new iTunes app, which announced “experts in the Church of England estimate that about a quarter of its 16,000 parish churches have projectors or large flat screens”. Dr Thomas Allain-Chapman of Church House Publishing, (CHP) is quoted as suggesting that this growing trend for screens in churches had been taken up by “at least 20 per cent and could be a third. It’s happening everywhere, even in some traditional rural churches.”

CHP was among the first Christian publishers to embrace digital publishing and, in addition to an online version of Crockford, has been busy developing a range of user-friendly apps such as Visual Liturgy in partnership with Aimer Media since 2011. It has also launched a new Sunday Worship app on iTunes so people can look up the relevant readings for a particular day, feast or season, and “a vicar can get this on his iPad and easily project it onto a screen”.


The move away from hymn books raises two legal issues: the need for a faculty for the permanent installation of a project and screen; and the copyright on the storage and use of electronically generated data. Using the estimates quoted to the media, the maths suggests that this is likely to affect somewhere between 3,240 and 5,345 churches, within which there will be on average 2,500 to 4,125 listed buildings [1]. Under Annex A of the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2000 [2] only non-fixed projectors and screens fall within the jurisdiction of an archdeacon, under the heading “Work affecting movables: ( i) introduction of any article which may lawfully be used in the performance of divine service or the rites of the Church (other than an aumbry)”.  In all other cases a faculty will be required, and a recent example of the issues a consistory court takes into consideration are: Re St. Batholomew Binley [2013] Stephen Eyre Ch (Coventry), a faculty was granted for the installation of a projector and screen in a Grade I listed Georgian church, the screen to be housed in a box across the sanctuary arch. In this case, the chancellor commented

“There is a real need for the use of projection equipment in the services in the church and that need should be met by arrangements which are seemly, unobtrusive in appearance, efficient in operation, and safe . . . “, [para. 19]


“For the sake of completeness I add that even if I had taken the view that the proposed works would adversely affect the church’s special character I would have concluded that the impact on that character was so minimal and the potential benefits so substantial that the latter outweighed the former”, [para.20].

With regard to the use of material subject to copyright, where hymn books are used in a church, the fee for copyright permission is included in the purchase price, but the situation is different in the case of: weekly service sheets; hand outs including the words of hymns, songs &c; and the projection of words with an overhead projector or a computer projection system.  In such cases, it is unlikely that the copyright fee will have been paid, unless this is part of the “package” via which the material was supplied, and some payment is required for its use.

Unfortunately, computer literacy is not necessarily associated with copyright literacy, and at the end of October we published a basic guide that may be of use to our readers.  The Service Sheet for the inauguration of Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury provides a practical example of the material for which an acknowledgement of copyright is required, and a template for the acknowledgements.  Coincidentally, yesterday the ABC commended the decision by the Bodleian and Vatican libraries to make available to the public digitized copies of ancient Bibles and Biblical texts, and this provides a good example of the care that must be taken when using material from web-based sources.

The home page of the web site indicates that during the next four years, “1.5 million pages from these two collections will be made freely available online to researchers and to the general public”, [our emphasis added].  However, anyone wishing to use this material would be advised to read the associated  Terms and Conditions , for whilst use of material from the Bod is relatively relaxed,

 “images of the Bodleian’s collections included on this site, and linked to via the image viewing interface, may be used for personal and non-commercial purposes under the terms of the UK Creative Commons ‘Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0’ Licence (CC-BY-NC-SA)”

that from the Vatican is more restrictive, i.e.

“The images of the Vatican Library’s collections included on this site, and linked to via the image viewing interface, are the intellectual property of the Vatican Library. These images may not be reproduced in any form without the authorization of the Vatican Library. Please email bav@vatlib.it for permission”, [emboldening on original].

[1] Based upon the CofE figure of 16,200 churches.

[2] Or under Schedule 2, Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2013, from 1 January 2014.

2 thoughts on “Hymn-books, projectors and copyright &c

  1. Pingback: Hymn-books, projectors and copyright &c | L...

  2. Pingback: An Index of L&RUK Posts – Consistory Court Judgments | Law & Religion UK

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