Guide to multimedia consent

This guide is a repository of consent-related information, practices and processes for SFU communicators. It explains the need for multimedia consent, as well as the copyright and privacy rules that govern how to legally capture and publish photo and video images, and pre-existing works such as music and art. It is useful for anyone responsible for creating, supervising, organizing or obtaining images on SFU campuses, or using copyrighted materials. 

What is multimedia consent?

Multimedia comprises graphics, photographs, video, audio and music recordings, and pre-existing works used for communication purposes. If you use such multimedia assets, you must obtain permission from any identifiable individual in images or videos, and from anyone whose pre-existing work you plan to publish. If you are asked to share an image for which you’ve already secured consent, you should notify the person requesting to share that they are subject to the same due diligence and must ensure consent for this new application. Consent that has been secured does not necessarily transfer to other users or applications.   

You can find more comprehensive information about multimedia consent here

What is Copyright?

Copyright protection exists for everyone as soon as a work is created in a fixed form.  A fact or idea is not subject to protection, but the expression of the fact or idea is protected.   

Copyright acts and policies protect the works of creators such as artists and writers, and the owners of protected works. As SFU employees, service providers or volunteers, we must follow both Canada’s copyright act and SFU’s copyright policy

If you are initiating a project, always obtain written consent before using pre-existing copyright-protected works, such as displayed artwork or a soundtrack. 

What is Privacy?

Everyone at SFU shares the responsibility of appropriately collecting and safeguarding the personal information of students, employees, faculty, alumni, and other subjects. We must comply with B.C.’s Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Act whenever third-party personal information is entrusted to our care.

Why obtaining consent is important

As SFU employees, service providers or volunteers, we share a legal obligation to protect personal information that is in the university’s custody, or under its control, and to protect the rights of creators, including but not limited to, artists, writers and those who own protected works.

You should refrain from using a multimedia asset if:

  • You cannot locate the signed consent form(s) associated with it
  • Its copyright information is unclear, incomplete or missing
  • It is not compliant with B.C.’s Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Act

If consent, copyright or privacy concerns or questions arise on previously published multimedia assets, you must immediately remove the assets from circulation until you have clarified their consent, copyright or privacy information.

Where and how we capture matters 

While it is legal to capture images of individuals without their consent in public settings, such as outdoors, we consider the university to be private property where campus members have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their daily routine. Therefore, obtain consent. 

When in doubt, avoid capturing or publishing the image of an identifiable person or copyright-protected work without first obtaining privacy or copyright consent. 

How to determine when consent is necessary

SFU has developed a framework to help you determine whether or not it is acceptable to capture and publish an image or pre-existing work without permission. You can find the framework here

How to obtain consent

SFU has developed a consent form that you can ask individuals to sign. Always seek consent from any identifiable person in an image or video. You can find the SFU consent form here

Alternatively, when it is inconvenient or impossible to request signatures from the individuals, the on-site videographer or photographer may obtain consent on-camera.  

Where individual consent forms are not appropriate or applicable, here are other ways to obtain consent: 

  • Email notification to event attendees that there will be on-site filming or photography and directing them to request they not be photographed or filmed. Here is an example of the appropriate wording: “This event will be photographed and/or video-recorded by SFU for archival, education, and related promotional purposes. By attending or participating in this event, you are giving your consent to be photographed and/or video-recorded. If you do not wish to be photographed and/or video-recorded, please let us know prior to the event start so you can be directed to designated areas that will not be captured on photos or video.” 
  • Announcement at event. You may post a sign announcing the event will be filmed or photographed. Ask those who don’t want to be captured to sit in a particular area, or to wear an identifying object such as a lanyard. Here is an example of the appropriate wording: “This event is being photographed and/or video-recorded by SFU for archival, education, and related promotional purposes. By attending or participating in this event, you are giving your consent to be photographed and/or video-recorded. If you do not wish to be photographed and/or video-recorded, please let us know prior to the event start so you can be directed to designated areas that will not be captured on photos or video (or: so you can be identified accordingly).” 
  • Disclaimer or waiver from third-party event management or ticketing online service, e.g. Eventbrite. Ensure you include the disclaimer in your event email or invitation. These disclaimers are usually called “photo/video waivers” or “photo/video releases” and different services have different disclaimers. 

How to track and file consent

It is the responsibility of the person obtaining/requesting an image or video footage to track and file consent form documentation.