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Permissions for Photography or Videography at Congregational Events
Communication, Communication

Photos and video are popular ways of sharing the life of your Unitarian Universalist congregation with others. Doing so, however, often raises issues of copyright permission and personal privacy. Below, we offer some tips to help you plan events that can be successfully photographed or recorded on video.

While we hope this information is useful, please remember that Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) staff are not lawyers and cannot give legal advice.

Notify Event Attendees in Advance

If children are going to be photographed or videotaped, written permission must be obtained from a parent or legal guardian of each child. When the photographs or videotapes are published, consider leaving out the names of the children.

If adults are going to be photographed or videotaped, advertise this fact on all promotion materials for the event. You may also want to make a brief announcement before the event or ceremony begins.

Request Blanket Permissions If Possible

When asking permission, ask for blanket permission to publish and distribute photographs and video. Don’t ask for permission to publish the photographs or video in only one place (i.e. just in the congregational newsletter, just on the congregational website, etc.).

There are two reasons to ask for broad permission:

  1. Communication technologies are constantly evolving. Even if right now, your congregation only has a website, in a few months, you might have a blog too, and want to share photographs there.
  2. Once a photograph is published, especially online, you cannot completely control where it will be shared. People can very easily take a photograph that they see on a congregation’s website and post it to their Facebook profile, even if doing so violates copyright. You cannot ensure that a photograph posted on your congregation’s website will remain only there.

Accommodate Participants Who Do Not Wish to Appear in Photos or Video

If it is feasible, you may also wish to demarcate a seating area that will not be visible on camera, for those who want to attend the event but do not want to be seen in the video.

Do Your Research Before Recording a Worship Service

If you are recording a worship service or other presentation that may include copyrighted material, respect copyright laws. Read “Copyright Issues Related to Worship” for more information.

Consider Expectations of Privacy

For events at which people may normally have an expectation of privacy, or events with which people may run some risk by being publicly identified, take the extra step of obtaining written permission from each person in advance. Such events, depending on your community, may include support groups, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) dances, or other congregational events.

Honor Removal Requests

If your congregation receives a request from someone featured in a photograph or video segment to have that photograph or video segment removed from a congregational website, Facebook Page, etc., do your best to honor that request.

Have Fun and Be Creative!

These media offer a wonderful way to share the story of your congregation with members, newcomers, and the general public.

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