Livestreaming Worship and Privacy Concerns

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Our church is looking to shift from invitation-only Zoom services for at-home worshippers to an open livestream broadcast. My concern is privacy, both in terms of permission by participants and worshippers to be seen in a public broadcast and in terms of personal references during our congregational prayers. People who may be okay with their prayer concerns being shared within the building, may not want them broadcast beyond our walls. 

Interested to hear how other churches are handling this, without getting bogged down in permission forms and processes.

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This is what we have in the Order of Worship each week.

**We are blessed to be able to record our worship services. By entering and by your presence here, you consent to be filmed and/or otherwise recorded for our congregation and on YouTube. Our cameras are generally directed at the front of the sanctuary.**

As for announcing from the pulpit in the congregational prayer, each person is asked if they would like it in newsletter only (for members only) or in the prayer publicly.  We then have a shared document with permissions given.

Guide

We follow a few general rules:

1. There is no "reasonable expectation of privacy" in a public setting like a worship service or other church-related event.

2. If there is a minor onstage or as part of the service, we explicitly seek permission for them to be part of the live stream.

3. When we receive prayer requests, we ask their permission to share with the congregation, "including the possibility that the request will be shared during the worship service to an in-person and online audience."

Thanks, Bryan. 

This topic would make a useful Church Juice blog post. I believe "reasonable expectation of privacy" applies in the US. I'd love to also hear from someone who knows about the corresponding standards for Canada, which are likely different.

Even if you apply that principal as a general rule, it doesn't exactly make for a friendly message. The fact is that pre-Covid, our services did offer a more reasonable expectation of than they will in livestreamed service, which is a new thing for us.

We're looking for an effective way to inform people without scaring them off, while also making sure we're covered if someone decides they didn't give permission to be included in our stream.

I placed posters on all the entrance doors stating live video and audio recording was taking place.

When I originally pitched the idea I came at it because of my experiences in the world of theatre and entertainment through radio, the same way as stated above and came up with this discloser for the bulletin:

NOTICE OF FILMING AND PHOTOGRAPHY

When you enter a Grant Christian Reformed Church (“Grant CRC”) service or event, you enter an area where photography, audio, Live Streaming, and video recording may occur.

By entering the event premises, you consent to photography, audio recording, video recording and its/their release, publication, exhibition, or reproduction to be used for web casts, promotional purposes, advertising, inclusion on websites, social media, or any other purpose by Grant CRC.  Images, photos and/or videos may be used to promote and highlight Grant CRC events in the future. 

 

Then after a few months when I gave a detailed report to the congregation at our meetin, we decided for now we would forgo the disclosure and try to minimize non staff appearance and instead gave an exact location of where the  camera angles would be facing (Keeping that our cameras are all fixed position, and on a switcher):

 

We will be having the cameras be as focused on the front as they allow:

*Camera #1 covered by Main Camera focused between the two trees up front. This is for the pastor, or any speaking that is going on up front on the stage between the trees.

*At this point, Camera #2 (the wide out shot) covers the stage from the piano to the drums.    That same shot will also get the back of people in the first few rows when seated and standing up. But this is not a main camera and its use is minimal.  So this is the camera that faces our director of music and our youth pastor, who do most of the open Welcoming, as well as the drummer who is there family member (this is under the understating from myself that they are payed staff (except drummer) like the pastor, so they appear). Any one in front 2 rows on the right side may be seen from the back, because of the angle.

 

*#3 is wired right out of the computer that displays the church power point, so we cut to that when minors are up front, during the singing (so it displays lyrics (not performers/ singers), and to show the scripture when the pastor speaks.  This is also nice when a guest speaker wouldn’t want to be on, but wouldn’t mind audio being on. 

 

*#4 Is usually a general graphic of the church to put up, just on the off chance something unexpected comes up and can switch to that, for privacy and copyright sake.

 

This has actually worked out great for us, and we did have a missionary who due to where they serve couldn’t risk being online, we just recorded the service audio and I posted that after instead.

 

We have not ran into an issue of having to put in the disclaimer because of the cameras being stationary and regulars, who generally are the ones who sit up front,  know that the front 2-3 rows could end up in the shot briefly.   So I figured if it was that much of a problem they wouldn’t sit there.  The disclaimer still is on standby incase we ever decide to use it.  But it’s nothing different than you see on the back of a standard concert ticket or in a major theatre playbill, only in that most people don’t realize they are there.  

 

Semi Related: Our church does have a signed disclosure for those who do, AND those who don’t want their photo used filed with the Secritary, so we might add the video next time around just to cover ourselves.