Skip to main content

Data protection for photography and filming

How to comply with the Data Protection Act when taking photographs or videos for University purposes.

Images of individuals, whether in still photographs or moving film images, will often be caught by the definition of personal data in the Data Protection Act. Often, consent from the individuals will need to be obtained to process (capture and use) the images fairly and lawfully.

If you are unsure whether the Act applies to the photos or film that you plan to take, get advice from the Data Protection Officer.

Consent and location forms

Taking and using photographs or film footage of people without their consent could constitute a breach of the Act. If an individual objects to the display of their photograph, then it must be removed.

Before taking photographs or filming for University purposes, please follow our guidance and use consent forms where appropriate.

Special arrangements may be made for students with specific learning needs to allow them to record lectures for their own use. Please contact Student Support for more information.

Withdrawing consent

An individual captured in an image can withdraw their consent even after having signed the consent form. Any such withdrawal should be in writing.

Once consent is withdrawn, the University cannot use the relevant images again, but it will not normally be possible to recall documents in which the image has already appeared.

Photographing and filming on campus

As the university is accessible to the public, areas such as the parade will be considered to be public areas, and you should be able to film or take pictures there which incidentally capture passers-by in the background, without the need to get their consent. However, you should still attempt to display our Location Warning Notice for filming/photography.

Photographing and filming individuals or small groups

Consent must always be obtained from people whose images are the focus of the photograph or film. For example, an academic being interviewed or photos of individuals being taken for a department noticeboard.

Where a photograph or film involves individuals other than the main subject, then in some circumstances their consent will also be needed. To ensure compliance with the Act:

  • make sure all those involved are happy to be photographed or filmed and understand how the images/film will be used and for what purpose
  • get all individuals to complete our personal consent form, (you may need to adapt it for your particular purpose)
  • get permission from the parent or guardian of any under 18s involved (see Parental Consent form)

Photographing and filming large groups such as lectures

If you are filming or taking pictures of a lecture delivered to a large group of registered students as part of their course of study, it is not normally necessary to ask all those in attendance to complete a consent form.

However, if it is a public or one-off lecture or it is to be made available on the web you need to consider both copyright and consent issues.

Get the presenter to sign the consent form before recording. They must ensure that they do not include in their presentation any material which belongs to a third party, unless they have permission or a licence to do so.

The internal consent form for internal audiences and the external consent form for external audiences also permit the University to use the lecture content and any of the lecturer's performance rights.

If any students or members of the audience take part in the lecture, for example, if they deliver a presentation they also need to sign the consent form to licence copyright and performance rights.

Photographs, film, sound recordings and still images are all protected by copyright. The University is the owner of copyright in recordings it makes but our academics own copyright in their scholarly output and this includes the underlying lecture material (such as PowerPoint Slides) and the content of the lecture (when fixed by a recording). The University has the automatic right to use those copyright works for its legitimate purposes. You must ensure that any third party material captured in the course of filming or taking photographs does not breach copyright, by being satisfied that the University is permitted to use such material for this purpose.

The University holds a licence which permits limited use of certain copyright material, for example, to distribute copies to registered students. But there is no blanket licence which would allow recording of all copyright material.

Display a warning notice to flag up that photography and filming is going to be taking place.

Verbally tell all those present that you will be photographing or filming in the group, before starting to do so, so that any individual who wishes to opt out may leave or move to the back, if appropriate.

Offer the individuals present in the audience the opportunity to set somewhere where they will not be filmed.

Storing photographs and film recordings

All photos or recordings which contain personal data will need to be treated in the same way as personal data held in other formats. They need to be kept securely and disposed of securely when no longer required, in accordance with our guidance on Data Security.

Since photographs may reveal details of the subject's race and ethnic origin they are classified as 'Special Category Data'. Generally, photographs should only be used and retained where strictly necessary.

Contact us

If you have any questions, please contact us.

On this page