Internal, open access

Publishing audiovisual content to the Web

These guidelines are designed to act as practical guidance for staff to comply with the legal issues of creating audiovisual material for publication on any area of the Web, including internal webpages, YouTube, iTunes U and Blackboard. These guidelines should be used as a best practice model and are not intended to be a substitute for legal advice. 

There are several questions which must be addressed prior to production of audiovisual content:

1. Are individuals featured at any stage? (if yes, see Consent)

2. Is the subject area sensitive, confidential or controversial? Are references made to other living individuals? (if yes, see Content)

3. (for researchers): is the research currently unpublished? Could it be exploited for commercial purposes? (if yes, see Content)

4. Are you using any material or work which you do not own or have not personally created? (if yes, see Third Party Copyright)

5. Will you have input (such as funding or practical assistance) from others in the production of the audiovisual material? (if yes, see Ownership)

If the answer to all these questions is 'no', you may proceed with your audiovisual creation and consider it legal for publication to the Web.

These questions can also be considered retrospectively after the audiovisual material has been created, though it is best to obtain rights and permissions in the early stages of the project to avoid disappointment and extreme editing later on.


Every individual, including employees of the University of Reading, who actively participates as a subject in an audiovisual project must sign a  prior to the commencement of filming or audio-recording. Signed consent forms should be collected by the producer or director of the project and returned to the named contact on the form. Signed written consent is not necessary where inclusion is incidental or en masse, for example the backs of heads during a lecture or individuals captured in the background.

When intending to audio record or film at any event, it is essential to make those attending aware, both through publicity materials and notices on the doors of the room, that audio recording/filming will be occurring and for what purpose (for example, making the conference recording available on the Web). Additionally, an announcement can be made and recorded at the start of an event to remind individuals that recording or filming is taking place.

It is advisable not to record or film Question and Answer sessions during an event. However, if sufficient warning has been given to the audience, and suitable notices detailing the purposes of the filming or recording are placed on the doors, these sessions can be legitimately captured. It is best to edit out any reference to peoples' names in sessions so that participants remain anonymous, and it is advisable to train the camera on the main speaker whilst questions are being taken.

Minors (individuals under 16 years of age) must never be filmed or audio recorded without explicit consent from their parents or guardians. Please seek advice from the IMPS office before filming or audio-recording minors.

Filming/audio-recording a specific individual without their permission for online publication will infringe their rights and should not be done.


It is very important to determine the nature of the film/audio recording and its content. For example, a short film about trees at the University is less sensitive than a film about residents in a nursing home. The impact of audio or video material must be considered, particularly where the subject is of a sensitive nature. No confidential information (such as case studies or material pending the grant of a patent) should ever be divulged. Higher risk topics such as the arts, film and music may include clips from films or trailers, images and sound bytes (including music) which need specific permission from the rights holders before they can be used (see Third Party Copyright).

When editing, ensure that any references that might be considered libellous or in breach of equal opportunities or data protection legislation are edited out, and take care not to include material likely to cause offence. Personal opinions are acceptable as long as they are not damaging or defamatory to other individuals or organisations.

In terms of research, content deemed to have potential market value, or which includes designs or patentable material, must not be published so as to avoid damaging chances of business development or publishing for commercial gain in the future. Careful consideration must be given to the issue of publishing currently unpublished research to the Web, as academic journal publishers may not publish the research if the information has already been published elsewhere. It is therefore advisable not to include comprehensive details of research and/or data if the findings have not yet been published.

All content is a representation of the University of Reading and therefore must uphold the terms expressed in the University Mission Statement.

Third Party Copyright

Copyright is an automatic right which exists in any created work. You only own copyright to work that you have created yourself. 'Third party content' is the phrase attributed to any work included in a project/presentation or any other work which does not belong to you. This would include the following:

Images (photographs/diagrams/drawings etc) from any source (e.g. Internet)

Film/movie clips (including historical footage)

Home video clips

YouTube video clip


Trademarks (such as Coca Cola) & logos

Long literary quotations (book chapters), poems, song lyrics of anything post-1939

Newspaper articles

Powerpoint slides containing any of the above

All third party content needs copyright clearance before it can be published to the web. For example, at a conference, a speaker may be filmed delivering a PowerPoint presentation. This presentation may include images which were not photographed by the speaker, or diagrams scanned into the presentation from a textbook, and so forth.

It is not enough to simply have correct, accurate references - permission to reproduce third party material must be sought and obtained prior to publication on the Web.

The  contains a clause pertaining to the ownership of copyright in the material used. When individuals agree to be filmed/audio recorded and sign the consent form, they confirm that they own the copyright in any material they present to be filmed/audio recorded. They may need an explanation that for any material contained within the film or audio recording that is not their own (i.e. created by them), they need to have been granted permission to use it. If there is any doubt over the use of materials in filming or audio recording, contact the Copyright & Compliance Officer for advice as the University could be liable.

Copyright Clearance

Seeking permission to use other people's material is essential if it is later to be made available on any area of the Web, even intranets and secure environments such as Blackboard. It is therefore vital that you make a note of where you sourced the material from and request permission from the rights holder (owner) as early as possible, as it may take time to obtain permission to use the material. Please refer to the permission guidance notes and template when requesting copyright clearance from a third party.

If you cannot find the author of the material, or you hear nothing back from the person you contacted, do not presume that you can use the material. Contact the Copyright & Compliance Officer who will offer advice and guidance on all copyright-related matters.

The material could come from a number of different sources:

1. Published texts (Books/Journals)

Contact the publisher of the book to ask for permission; they will negotiate on behalf of the author. Note: if you are the author of the book/journal article, you will need to check the terms of the contract you agreed to when you sent it to be published. Some publishers' contracts/licences can be very inflexible and require you to assign all your rights to them, which means that even though you are the author of the work you would not have the authority to re-publish your work under any circumstances.

2. Unpublished texts/works

Always contact the author in the first instance.

3. Internet

Contact the webmaster of the site that you sourced the material from in the first instance and/or look at any copyright statements and terms of use which may be on the site. If the webmaster is not the owner of the material you have used they may be able to put you in touch with the person whose material it is. If they do not know where they got it from, be cautious about using that material; if in doubt, leave it out! If you really need to or want to use it, contact the Copyright & Compliance Officer who may be able to help you track down the rights holder. Please ensure that you comply with the terms of use and copyright regulations of the website.

4. Music

Commercially produced music will most certainly carry royalties imposed by the record companies for the use of their artists' music (this includes song lyrics), so be prepared to cover the cost of this and always ask permission. Please note that even if you have purchased the music on CD or download you do not own the rights to redistribution - never assume that you do. It is strongly advised that you do not use any commercially produced music in your audio recordings. There are various stores of stock music on the internet which can be used for free - please ensure that you comply with the terms of the licence should you wish to use any music.

5. Film

Commercially produced films will carry significant royalties imposed by film studios for the use of any part of their films in your production. Always seek permission before using any clips of film or video that is not yours, even if it is publically available on a site such as YouTube.

6. Audio material (on CD/tape/record)

Commercially produced audio material should generally be avoided, although contact the publisher if there is one. Otherwise, contact the institution where it is held or that it belongs to.


As a general rule, the first owner of copyright in a sound recording is the producer, and in film it is the producer and the principal director (this is often the same person). Sound recordings and films produced by a member of staff at the University of Reading during the course of their employment will belong to the University of Reading, although members of staff must be credited for their role as producer or director.

In the case of joint ventures (such as a jointly hosted conference between two institutions), as long as the filming and production is shared equally between the partners, the copyright in the final product will belong equally to both institutions.

For joint staff-student ventures, as students are not employees of the University and therefore own all the material that they create, the University will require the student to assign their rights in the project to the University (see IP Code of Practice).

If, however, it is not a joint venture but there is a level of involvement (such as screenwriting) from students, staff from other institutions or any other third party organisations, you will generally need those involved to assign their rights in the material in writing to the University.

If an organisation is providing the funding for a project, check the terms of the contract for any restrictions on the use of the material once the project has finished. It is always best practice to check with the funding organisation whenever the situation is unclear, or for further advice please see the Copyright & Compliance Officer.

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