Brown University often uses still and motion images of academic activities and campus life to promote the University and to advance the University’s educational objectives. Brown’s Image Use Policy establishes standards for use of still or motion images in Brown communications that include recognizable individuals in these images. Brown University is subject to state and federal laws regarding privacy that require permissions for images highlighting individuals for marketing or promotional purposes.
In order to display images in Brown print or digital communications, the unit hosting that communication must have permission from the people who are highlighted in the photograph or video if the photograph meets the standards of being used for marketing or promotional use. Brown or the unit also must own copyright of the images, and/or have an agreement with the photographer that allows use of the image.
Permission to incorporate a produced work (for example, consent to use a photo) is distinct from image-use permission (consent from the person in the photo) and is additionally subject to Brown's policies for Copyright and Fair Use.
This Image Use Policy governs still or motion images captured by Brown employees on behalf of any University unit, and by someone other than a Brown employee for use by a University unit, for marketing or promotional purposes. A Unit is defined as a University office, department, center, institute, program, school or other academic or administrative entity of the University.
No University Unit may reproduce for inclusion in any media to be disseminated for or on behalf of Brown (whether print or electronic publications, e-communications, videos, Web pages, social media, or any other form of media), or maintain in any image archive, 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.
The use in University media of any print or digital image by or on behalf of any University Unit is restricted to the representation or promotion of the University, its programs, events and activities. 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 might be captured for these purposes.
However, by law, capturing these images does not constitute permission for their use. 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 image, whether or not taken while in/at a public space or event, is identifiable and used for marketing or promotional purposes.
Promotional purposes include 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.
The Unit using an image for such promotional use must obtain written consent for use of any image of an employee, student or visitor to campus, or individual involved in an event sponsored by a University Unit — whether that event is on campus or off campus — featured in a photograph or electronic image in an identifiable fashion if that image will be used for a marketing or advertising initiative. If a still or motion image is desired to be taken in a location where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as a dormitory room or private residence, written consent must be obtained, not only to use, but also to capture the image.
The University Unit that obtains the image commits to honor, to the extent practicable, any request of the individual whose image is being used to cease the use of the image. 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.
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 also generally is 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 such notification might not exempt the need for written permission if featuring individuals from such events for marketing or promotional purposes.
Additional Resources and Guidelines
The Office of University Communications maintains internal tip sheets and guidelines for members of the campus community seeking additional guidance to understand image permissions. Please 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
This Image Use Policy is intended to address the typical circumstances in which a question arises about the use of photographs and electronic images maintained by University units. The policy is administered under the guidance of Brown’s Office of University Communications.