A cautionary tale about church Wi-Fi

2/10/2017

Counsel about copyright compliance for churches that offer Wi-Fi access to guests comes from the Conference’s Communications Ministry.

Those churches are strongly urged to require that each guest endorse a user agreement form when signing in to the Wi-Fi network. This step is in addition to entering a password.

At the United Methodist Ministry Center in Oklahoma City, a user agreement is part of the guest Wi-Fi log-in process.

Recently, a UM church in Oklahoma acted promptly upon receiving a company’s warning letter about the illegal download of a popular movie through that church’s Wi-Fi network.

In the letter, the company stated it would take legal action if another violation occurred.

The church’s leaders responded in several ways to ensure copyright compliance going forward. They identified the digital device used and educated people. They further secured the Wi-Fi network, with help from the church’s Internet service provider, and blocked unapproved websites.

Network guests must now endorse a user agreement form, too.

Companies that protect copyrights are vigilant, and they easily trace media downloads using your IP address within three hours of the download, explained Nyla Wallin of the Communications Ministry.

"Rest assured, the Oklahoma Conference adheres to copyright compliance, especially for music, movies, and television," she said.

Through Christian Video Licensing International (CVLI), she explained, all churches in the Conference have copyright permission to view movies from the extensive CVLI catalog. This contract is paid from Apportionments.

But CVLI coverage does not include content that has been downloaded from unapproved websites or obtained by another method such as digital streaming or illegal DVD copying, Wallin said.

To add a user agreement form to a Wi-Fi network, a church should contact its Internet service provider.

In the Communications office, Wallin can be reached at nwallin@okumc.org  or 405-530-2073.

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