Photographs, Permissions and Privacy

Posted on: September 17, 2013 by Nettel Media

Category: General

Photographs, Permissions and Privacy

(Image: mi55er via Flickr)

Cameras are everywhere. We carry small handheld cameras in our cell phones, there are traffic cameras on many major intersections, and high-end digital cameras have become increasingly more affordable. This of course means that there are more photos and videos being taken, in more places.


It may seem like posting images of anyone and anything online is commonplace. However, when videos are recorded, they capture personal information – such as an individual’s race, height, age, hair and eye colour, sex, and more. This information can be used in ways that violate that person’s privacy, and hence it is important to know the laws before you hit record, especially when it comes to filming children. Although there are laws that apply to specific countries or situations, there are general best practices one should be aware of.


A Guardian article from last summer details the experience of Sue Rice, who was shocked when she opened a yearbook to see photos of her child’s class of 4 year olds with their eyes blacked out, due to “a de facto photography ban at her child’s school”. She was unable to also obtain photos of her child at sports days and Christmas plays, let alone any other recording methods.


The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act defines a recording as “a record of information in any form…includes audiovisual recordings”. Bill C-11 has also created a new ownership default, which allows photographers to use personal images for purposes unknown or unintended by the subjects, although it is important to know that a freelancer can’t sell the prints to the media as it may violate privacy and other legalities, and you may have the right to sue (CIPPIC).


For example, Service Alberta explains to viewers that events that are videotaped may be staged. Further, a few students can be selected to work with a teacher in an activity. This allows schools to obtain informed consent from parents in advance of the recording.


It is also important to note that you need to be careful to ask permission from friends if you are posting photos on social media that their children may be in. In the U.S. the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, establishes rules regarding the posting of identifying information about minors including a child's school, hometown or full name. Even though this law does not apply to individuals, but rather to online sites, Facebook for example could remove at the request of a parent any pictures that violate the rule.


The rapid adoption of digital technology has significantly impacted the way that we share and take pictures. As a photographer or videographer, it is important to understand your obligations. Filming children’s plays and having them available on DVD provides a great way for people to reminisce and keep a record of their children growing up. However, it is important to learn the laws, and speak to appropriate school employees if you have any questions.


If you would like hire us to cover your event to ensure all the proper legal steps have been taken, contact us.

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