The new Canadian Copyright Act (Bill C-11) has been passed recently- but not yet enacted. It touches on a perennial topic church librarians deal with – converting videorecordings from VHS to DVD or other formats and provides clear limits on what can and can’t be done. Although the law has changed somewhat from previous copyright law, in most cases it still remains an infringement of copyright to simply reformat videorecordings in your circulating collection.
Here’s a an abridged version of the pertinent section of the law:
It is not an infringement of copyright for a Library (or archive) to make, for the maintenance or management of its permanent collection, a copy of a work in its collection if the original is rare and is (or is at risk of becoming) deteriorating, damaged or lost and for the purposes of on-site consultation.
Further, it is not an infringement to copy a work in an alternative format if the library considers that the original is in a format that is obsolete or is becoming obsolete for the purposes of internal record-keeping and catalogung, for insurance purposes or police investigations, or for restoration.
None of this applies if an appropriate copy is commercially available in a medium and of a quality that is appropriate.
(Read the full text here starting at page 70, section 30.1 )
As I understand it, you can convert your almost-worn out Betamax copy only if it’s a non-circulating copy and there’s no updated format commercially available. (Of course that worn out copy must be a legal version itself, not a dubbed or pirated copy.)
Now, videotapes of congregational meetings, Christmas pageants and so forth are a different story … if you assume that your church is the copyright owner then it’s safe to assume that you can update your archival material to keep them accessible to users.
(Caveat- I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV)