Photography Policy

The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, the federal law known as FERPA, protects the confidentiality of certain student information and records that the university maintains. Unless the student consents (or a FERPA exception applies), the university is prohibited from disclosing to third parties information from a student's education records. FERPA permits the university to define several types of student information as “directory information,” which the university may disclose to third parties without the student's consent unless the student has requested in writing that the university NOT disclose directory information about that student.

Photographs of students are considered directory information as long as they are used only for university purposes. Therefore, if a student has not requested that the university maintain the confidentiality of the student's directory information, the university is not prohibited by FERPA from using and publishing photographs of the student solely for university purposes.

University Photography Release Form

The Photography Release Form is used with subjects, such as staff, faculty, and alumni, who are not covered by FERPA. The Photography Release Form should also be used with students who are covered by FERPA but whom the university will be using or promoting in a significant way in either a print or electronic medium (for example, on the Internet or in slide shows or videos). The Photography Release Form clarifies the rights and responsibilities of both the student and the university.

General Campus and Event Photography

As a general rule, it is not necessary to obtain a release for any individual or group photographed in a public venue or while attending a public event. This includes all public spaces across campus, such as exterior walkways, entry ways, atriums, sports fields, conference rooms, and classrooms. Individuals have a very limited scope of privacy rights when they are in public spaces. Basically, persons can be photographed without their consent except when they have secluded themselves in places where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy (for example, in dressing rooms, restrooms, medical facilities, and residence hall rooms).

If, however, an individual is photographed while in a public space and is recognizable in the photograph, a Photography Release Form should be obtained if the photograph will be distributed or published to organizations outside the university or posted on the Internet. It is important to obtain a Photography Release Form for any photograph that will become the centerpiece of a marketing or advertising initiative.

Please note that the university’s policy is to restrict the use of any photograph to the representation, marketing, or promotion of university activities only. The university also commits to honor, to the extent practicable, any request to cease in the use of a photograph. This policy is intended to address the typical circumstances in which a question arises about the use of photography. Please direct any questions to the Office of Business Affairs at (352) 588-8215.