Even with the wide sharing of photos and video on social social media, congregations still need policies that enable them to follow copyright law, protect the vulnerable and follow the core value of consent.
It's important to make a good faith effort to notify members, friends and visitors when photos and videos will be taken and shared by the congregation:
- Mention it in invitations or promotional materials for the event at which the photography or videotaping will take place.
- Post signs at the entrances
- Make a brief announcement before the ceremony begins (at the same time that you would say “please turn off your cell phones”).
- 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.
- Find other creative ways for people to opt out.
- For events at which people may normally have an expectation of privacy, or events with which at-risk people may be publicly identified, take the extra step of obtaining written permission from each person in advance of that person being videotaped or photographed.
- 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, bulletin board, etc., honor that request.
When asking permission, ask for blanket permission to publish and distribute photographs and video. 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!
Once a photograph is published, especially online, you can’t 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 the copyright. You cannot ensure that a photograph posted on your congregation’s website will remain only there.
The suggested form for congregations requests broad permissions.
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. Some congregations only film children from the back, so that their faces are not visible.
- The congregation has an “opt-out” photo and video policy. Therefore, photos and videos may be taken and published of any individual unless a written statement requests otherwise. Publishing of photos and videos includes, but is not limited to, posting on our website and social media, inclusion in emails, and inclusion in print media: Published photos and videos will adhere to the following guidelines:
- The congregation will not knowingly publish any image of an identifiable person that is defamatory, an invasion of privacy, falsely depicts a person in a negative light, or violates any other congregational policy in effect at the time of publication.
- The congregation will obtain written permission from any identifiable individuals (or their legal representatives) depicted in images used in fundraising materials
- The congregation will not identify minors by name, parent’s names, or other personal information without express written permission from a parent or legal guardian.
- Adults may be identified in photos and videos. Past photos and videos showing children that have since aged into legal adults may also be identified.
- The congregation will honor reasonable requests to remove or obsure identifiable individuals depicted in photos or videos posted on the premises, website, or social media accounts controlled by the congregation.