Movies in Church

copyrightwarningHow many times has this happened to you (sounds like the opening of a bad infomercial?) You have a youth group meeting and you are going to show a DVD movie to the group. You purchased the movie yourself, or someone else has loaned you their copy. No admission or entrance fee is being charged. No problem, everything is above board.

Actually there is a problem.  According to the law, this is considered a public showing of a copyrighted film. As such, it is subject to the Federal Copyright of 1976 which stipulates that violations can result in substantial fines.  How much? Even inadvertent infringement is subject to substantial civil damages, ranging from $750 to $30,000 for each work. In our current litigious society, do you really want to take that chance?

Fortunately, there are resources and options that can alleviate this concern.  Just like the licenses for music and print, which I have talked about earlier, there are licenses you can obtain for video.  CCLI offers church video licensing which will allow you to legally show movies for such things as sermons, Sunday school, classes and special events.  Other resources are:

Copyright Guidelines for Churches from Episcopal Church Foundation
Motion Picture Licensing Association
Church Publishing – Showing Movies in Church

Let’s see you at the movies, not see you in court!

Photo: Wikimedia

New Event Promotion Submission Tool

There are many event promotion opportunities for the multitude of events run throughout the diocese.

How to Submit Event Promotion Requests

Here, in the Communications office, things can get a little messy. We don’t mean for it to happen. Like you, we’re busy. To make things easier for you (and us), we’ve started streamlining a few processes.

The first of these is the events listing on We’re moving to a self-service platform, but until then we have a form. Event promotion requests will only be accepted via the form. This is so it’s all formatted and sized correctly ready for the website and any applicable emails. We have limited space to fit everyone’s events in.

You’ll notice a few fields on the form have strict word limits. Yes, they are strict. These are enforced as the number of characters, so you may be able to squeeze an extra word in – if they’re all short. This change is really just applying the previous 1-2 sentences short rule. We discovered that some people define this a little creatively. Our “favorite” submission had four sentences, each with about 25 words. The event listings are just a teaser to get people to click through to your website. They don’t need all the details; just enough to entice people to click.

Following on from that, we have asked for a few details that aren’t for publication. It’s because there may be other promotion campaigns going on. If we have all the details, then it saves you having to send it later.

High-quality photos work well in event promotions. Smartphone photos can be great. You don’t need a complex, expensive DSLR. Make sure it’s a clear, in-focus photo with lots of light. The bigger, the better. We can crop it to size, but we can’t make a small photo big, and have it still look good. Chances are the photo will be a big file so put it on a Flickr page or in a Dropbox account and send us the share link to that specific photo.

When to Submit Event Promotion Requests?

It should be on your website as early as possible, but we don’t need to see it any more than a month before the event. That’s the same time you can push it more on your congregation emails and bulletins.

The Summary Check List

There is a lot of information in this post, so here’s the summary.

1. Add your event to your website
2. Four weeks before the event, complete the event submission form.
3. Use a short, enticing event summary description.
4. Complete all details – we can do anything with partial information.
5. Photos are optional, but they’re effective.

If you have any questions, please email [email protected]

Tech Support Exposed!

As part of my duties here, I am called upon for computer or tech support help.  This comes from co-workers, church administrators, clergy, web designers, you name it.  I came across this picture from which totally explains how it’s done.  Now to get ready for convention…..tech_support_cheat_sheet

The Episcopal Church Welcomes You (21st Century Edition)

We have seen the signs for years, “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You”.  While this is nice to have in front of your church or down the street with an arrow pointing the way, is this the only way that people will know about your church?  Are you counting on people finding you in the Yellow Pages?  If these are your two major advertising methods, expect few visitors to your church door this summer.

As we begin to enter summer, vacations and traveling will be the order of the day for many people.  This brings the opportunity to update your website and local listing information targeted toward newcomers & visitors.  Is your church ready to help potential visitors this summer?

On your website, there are three things you should look at on your homepage and make sure are correct.

  1. Do you have your correct service times posted (you may have summer hours)?
  2. Do you have a map showing where your church is along with its address?
  3. Do you have a contact link, contact phone number or email address listed?

All three of these should be on your homepage and accessible without having to scroll.  If these cannot be readily found or are outdated, people will go elsewhere.

People search for churches the same way they search for restaurants and shopping, therefore the location listings on search engines are very powerful.  Take advantage of these.  You can claim your local listings and manage them for search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yelp, SuperPages, etc.  Another thing that will help you be found is  Signup is free and you can add your church quite easily.

Writing reviews is a very popular function of the web and social media.  34% of bloggers write reviews and 90% of customers trust peer recommendations over direct advertising.  Don’t be surprised if you find reviews of a visitor’s experience at your church on one of these local listing sites or other sites like ChurchRater , Ship of Fools or ChurchPick.  The reviewers may want to link to your website, Facebook page or other social media platform.  Be ready and as my grandmother would say “put your best foot forward”.  Use the tools and technologies available to show that in the 21st century, just as we have done for years, the Episcopal Church truly DOES welcome you!

Copyright, Intellectual Property and the Church

I have been following conversations of late regarding the proper use of other people’s material in the church.  Can you videotape your choir singing an anthem and put it up on YouTube?  Can you print out the hymns in your Sunday bulletin?  What about music on your website?

Here are two links that I believe every church should take a look at when trying to find answers to these questions.  One is Christian Copyright Solutions, a site that deals with music licensing.  The other is Copyright Guidelines for Churches which is a document published by  You can also find this document and other information on this subject through the Episcopal Church Foundation Vital Practices site.  All of these are great resources.  So before you print that picture you downloaded from the Internet in your newsletter, do your homework and check out these resources.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure….

How to Stay Current Without Going Crazy

Last year I completed a certification program from the University of Washington in Social Media Technology and Implementation.  It was a terrific program and I would recommend it to anyone interested in this topic.  I regularly receive information from the university concerning upcoming programs, tips, etc.   I received an email from them that I would like to share.  It is by Hanson Hosein, director of the UW Master of Communication in Digital Media program.  The complete link is here, but I have copied the information I want to share below. Continue reading “How to Stay Current Without Going Crazy”

Help, I’ve been hacked!

Phishing is the act of sending an email that falsely claims to be from a trusted source, in an effort to obtain your password, personal account information, or just money.  One that I have gotten a great deal of lately is the “I’m in Europe, my passport has been stolen and I need $xxx to pay my hotel bill” variant.   This was sent to me on several occasions by people I knew. Their email accounts had been compromised, and the phisher had sent the email to everyone in their address book.

Obviously, if you see something like this in your inbox, let your friend know his or her email account has been hacked. But don’t send any money.

Lastly, here are some things to do to help protect yourself from being a victim of this type of scam.

1.  Change your password on your email account regularly.
2.  Make sure your password is secure, with numbers and other special characters.
3.  Consider changing your email account if it has been hacked.
4.  Make sure you have anti-virus software on your computer and that it is up to date.  This is especially important with wireless connections.
5.  Don’t give out your email address and password to just anyone.
6.  Review your Facebook settings.  A great deal of information, including email address can be mined from unprotected accounts.
7.  If you are a victim of such an incident, change password immediately and notify the email provider involved.

How wired do you want to be?

For the last few months I have been wrestling with an idea that may or may not be ready for prime time.  I may be going out on a bit of a limb here, but I would like to talk about using technology as part of the liturgical service.  What I mean by this is the idea of using smartphones/iPads/Kindles for following along in the service.  It would seem to be the next logical progression in church digital communications. Continue reading “How wired do you want to be?”

What the Internet is hiding from you

I have been meaning to write something about this since I first heard about this last week after seeing this video by Eli Pariser.  As with many things, I got distracted and it got lower on my ever expanding to-do list.   Here is another link on this, and thanks to my buddy Kat Lehman at the Diocese of Bethlehem for reminding me about this.

I think this is a major issue that we haven’t really addressed at any real level yet.  If I talk with or interact with only people like me, or ideas or concepts that are just like mine, I am going to miss out on some great conversations and insights.  Just as I don’t want to be told what to think or believe, I don’t want to be presented with only those issues and things that some algorithm has generated as “my stuff.”  It limits conversation, limits the flow of ideas and isolates us more than brings us together, which is the antithesis of what the Internet was originally touted for.

If you agree with me on this, pass these links on.  That is part of how we get the word out.

A very cool primer!

As part of Episcopal Communicators, we share ideas and tools to help us do our work better and more efficiently.  A great tidbit, courtesy of Rise Thew Forrester of the Diocese of Northern Michigan, is this website link  It is a wonderful and easy to read primer on browsers and the internet.  It’s not quite a Kindle, but it is pretty clever and nicely laid out.  More importantly, it has great information on such topics as cloud computing, cookies, privacy and plug-ins.  A highly recommended reading!