University Policies
Policy Contact
Vice President for Marketing Communications and Content Strategy Email (401) 863-6262

Image Use Policy

Policy No. Issue Date Effective Date

1.0 Policy Purpose

This policy establishes standards for the use of still or motion images, whether print or digital, containing identifiable individuals in Brown communications for Marketing or Promotional Purposes, in accordance with state and federal privacy laws.

2.0 To Whom the Policy Applies

This policy applies to all University Units (Units) and the individuals therein who are using for Marketing or Promotional Purposes or maintaining in an archive any still or motion images captured on behalf of or for use by a Unit. In all cases where “image” is referenced throughout the policy, it should be understood to include all still or motion images, whether print or digital, that contain identifiable individuals.

3.0 Policy Statement

Units using images for Marketing or Promotional Purposes must have prior written permission from the identifiable individuals in the image. No University Unit may reproduce in any media (regardless of form) to be disseminated for or on behalf of Brown, or maintain in any image archive:

  • any images for which Brown or the Unit does not own the copyright; or
  • any images taken by someone other than a University employee without either:
    • a professional services agreement in place granting the University rights to the images; or
    • a written consent and release from the external photographer or creator of the image.

Permission to incorporate a produced work (e.g., consent to use a photo) is distinct from image-use permission (i.e., consent from the person in the photo) and is additionally subject to Brown’s Copyright Ownership and Use Policy.

Images used for Marketing or Promotional Purposes include the use of any image in University media by or on behalf of any University Unit in which the image represents or promotes the University, its programs, events and activities (e.g., images of University employees and students involved in campus life activities, images of visitors to campus in public spaces or engaging in public events, or participants in University-sponsored events off-campus). For use of these images in any form of media, Rhode Island law requires consent of the subjects if either or both of the following conditions are met: 1) the individual(s) in the photograph or image are identifiable and have an expectation of privacy at the time the photo or video is taken, and/or 2) the individual(s) in the image, regardless of whether taken while in/at a public space or event, is identifiable and used for Marketing or Promotional Purposes.

In locations where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy (e.g., a dormitory room or private residence) prior written consent must be obtained, not only to use, but also to capture images.

3.1 Requests to Cease Use of an Image for Marketing or Promotional Purposes

The University Unit that obtains the image will honor, to the extent practicable, any request to cease the use of the image for Marketing or Promotional Purposes from the individual whose image is being used. The Unit that secures the image for its use is responsible for maintaining on file the record of permission and consent for the reasonable life of the image.

3.2 Exceptions

Consent is not required for the use of images taken strictly for news reporting or documentary purposes (when there is no expectation of privacy by the subject of such photos). Consent is also generally not required for use of images taken in public venues or spaces where individuals are not featured or readily identifiable (e.g., crowd shots). Hosts or sponsors of Brown events or programs open to the public are encouraged to note in signage or in registration and/or published materials that photos may be taken for the University’s news or Promotional Purposes, though written permission is still required if featuring identifiable individuals from such events for Marketing or Promotional Purposes.

4.0 Definitions

For the purpose of this policy, the terms below have the following definitions:

Marketing/Promotional Purposes: Communications developed for the purpose of increasing engagement, raising general awareness or eliciting participation in any form, whether through attendance, enrollment, or any form of volunteerism or philanthropy. This includes images used in design for websites, e-communications, brochures, posters, annual reports, or videos or other multimedia communications developed to promote programs or initiatives.

University Unit: A University office, department, center, institute, program, school or other academic or administrative entity of the University.

5.0 Responsibilities

All individuals to whom this policy applies are responsible for becoming familiar with and following this policy. University supervisors and employees with student oversight duties are responsible for promoting the understanding of this policy and for taking appropriate steps to help ensure and enforce compliance with it.

6.0 Consequences for Violating this Policy

Failure to comply with this and related policies is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including suspension without pay, or termination of employment or association with the University, in accordance with applicable (e.g., staff, faculty, student) disciplinary procedures.

7.0 Related Information

Brown University is a community in which employees are encouraged to share workplace concerns with University leadership. Additionally, Brown’s Anonymous Reporting Hotline allows anonymous and confidential reporting on matters of concern online or by phone (877-318-9184).

The following information complements and supplements this document. The information is intended to help explain this policy and is not an all-inclusive list of policies, procedures, laws and requirements.

7.2 Related Procedures


7.5 Other Related Information

The Office of University Communications maintains internal tip sheets and guidelines for members of the campus community seeking additional guidance to understand image permissions. Email the Office of University Communications to request any of the following documents:

  • “Do I Need Image Use Permission?” Chart
  • Managing Image Permissions- Implementation Guide
  • Detailed FAQ for Understanding Brown’s Use of Images

Policy Owner and Contact(s)

Policy Owner: Senior Vice President for Communications

Policy Approved by: President

Contact Information:

Vice President for Marketing Communications and Content Strategy Email (401) 863-6262

Policy History

Policy Issue Date:

Policy Effective Date:

Policy Update/Review Summary:


Previous policy version(s) superseded by this policy:

  • Image Use Policy, Effective Date: October 2018