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Publishing audiovisual content to the Web

These guidelines provide practical guidance to help staff navigate the legal issues relating to creating and publishing audiovisual material online, including on University webpages, Blackboard and YouTube. These are guidelines of good practice and not a substitute for legal advice.

Several aspects must be considered prior to the production of audiovisual content:

1. Are identifiable individuals the focus of the recording? (if yes, see Consent)

2. Is the subject matter sensitive, confidential or controversial? Are references made to other identifiable 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 (For researchers) Is the research currently unpublished?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 copyright-protected material or work that you 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)

These questions can also be addressed after the audiovisual material has been created (but prior to publication), although it is always best to obtain any necessary rights or permissions in advance to avoid disappointment and any need for substantial editing later on.


Recordings of individuals and small groups are likely to capture personal data and therefore the requirements of the Data Protection Act 2018 will apply. It is advisable for any guest speakers or performers who are the focus of an audiovisual recording being published online to sign an Image Release Form prior to the commencement of filming or recording. This includes students who are performing or speaking in front of camera, as well as employees of the University of Reading who would not otherwise have a reasonable expectation of being filmed or recorded in the course of their duties. No image release form is required in relation to the creation of lecture capture recordings by staff who have indicated separately that they wish to participate in lecture capture, nor from students or other audience members who are merely in attendance.

Signed forms must be collected by the producer or director of the project and returned to the Copyright & Compliance Officer. Such consent is not necessary where inclusion of an individual’s image is incidental and not privacy intrusive (for example, footage of the backs of heads during a lecture, in which attendees are not clearly identifiable).

However, it is essential in all circumstances to ensure attendees are aware that filming or recording is taking place. At events, this can be achieved both through publicity materials and signage at the entrances to the venue, notifying attendees that filming or recording will be occurring and for what purpose (for example, making a conference recording available online). Additionally, an announcement should be made at the start of an event to remind individuals that recording or filming is taking place.

Generally, it is advisable not to record or film Question & Answer sessions at the end of a lecture or other event. However, if audience participation is captured, after suitable announcements have been made and notices detailing the purposes of the filming or recording are displayed prominently, then this is likely to be a low risk. It may be advisable to edit out references to individuals’ names so that participants remain anonymous, and it is advisable to ensure the camera remains focused on the main speaker whilst questions are being taken.

Minors (young people under 18 years of age) must not be filmed or recorded without explicit consent from their parent or guardian. Please seek advice from the IMPS office before filming or recording minors.

Filming/recording an identifiable individual for online publication without their permission might infringe their rights and should be avoided. If you are unsure whether your audiovisual content contains personal data, or whether you require consent, then contact the IMPS team for advice via


It is very important to consider the sensitivities of a film/recording. For example, a short film about biodiversity on campus will be less sensitive than a film about residents of a nursing home. The impact of the audiovisual material being created must be considered, particularly where the subject is of a sensitive nature. No confidential information (such as restricted case studies, or material pending the filing of a patent application) should be divulged. Topics such as the arts, film and music are likely to pose a higher risk if recordings include clips from films or sound recordings, dramatic performances or images, for which permission from the copyright owner might be required (see Third Party Copyright).

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

Research outputs deemed to have potential market value, or which include protectable designs or patentable material, must not be published so as to avoid damaging chances of business development or commercial publication in the future. More generally, consideration should be given before any previously unpublished research or creative output is published online, which some publishers deem to be 'prior publication'.

Third Party Copyright

Copyright is an intellectual property right providing automatic protection against unauthorised reuse of original creative works. UK copyright law gives exclusive rights to creators and owners of copyright to control how their works are used (copyright restrictions) but also provides limitations to copyright for some kinds of reuse in certain circumstances, including for teaching (copyright exceptions). Third party copyright-protected material refers to any work in which copyright subsists but does not belong to you, or to the University. This could include content such as images (e.g. photographs/diagrams/paintings etc.), film clips (including historical footage), YouTube videos, music and sound recordings, poems and song lyrics, newspaper articles and student work. Any substantial use of third party copyright-protected material within a film or recording must be within the scope of an applicable copyright exception, or will require specific permission to include.

Teaching and Lecture Recordings

If you intend to reuse copyright-protected material in a presentation to support a specific teaching point, then your use might be covered by a copyright exception permitting fair dealing for the purposes of 'illustration for instruction' (section 32 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988). You must provide sufficient accompanying acknowledgement of the author/creator and title/source, to rely on this exception. Note that this exception only applies in the context of non-commercial teaching activity, including teaching that is captured or delivered digitally via a secure, password-protected Virtual Learning Environment; so will not apply if the same material is reused for other purposes or in a different context (such as to illustrate a publicly accessible web page on the same topic).

Whether a use is fair dealing is always context-specific; for example, it is possible for the inclusion of a third party copyright-protected work within a lecture recording to be fair dealing if the video is accessible only to students enrolled on that module and unfair if that video is made available to the general public.

Generally, however, the reasonable reuse of protected works in a recorded lecture, with sufficient accompanying acknowledgement, will not infringe copyright, if the following conditions are met:

  • The material facilitates an accompanying teaching point or critique, or is quoted for a specific purpose, so is not used merely decoratively or extraneously;
  • The use does not conflict unreasonably with a rights owner’s legitimate interests (e.g. by depriving them of income) or ‘normal exploitation’ of their work (e.g. the expectation of charging reproduction fees for commercial stock photography); and
  • The use is not excessive, or more than is necessary to make your point.

If your use complies with these conditions, you will not usually need to remove third party copyright-protected content from lecture capture recordings before distributing them to students via a secure, password-protected Virtual Learning Environment. However, you might need to do this if:

  • The use is not accompanied by sufficient acknowledgement (except where this would be impossible, for example because the work is anonymous);
  • The use does not facilitate accompanying criticism/review (which would include exploration of the broader ideas and implications of the material used) or a teaching point made within the slides; or
  • The use is excessive or otherwise unfair to the rights owner.

Some copyright exceptions are not subject to a test of fair dealing. For example, section 34(2) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 permits copyright-protected films, broadcasts and sound recordings to be shown or played within a lecture at an educational establishment (i.e. on campus, to an audience of students). This exception does not permit the same content to be captured within a lecture recording and watched off-site, so this kind of material should not be captured or shared in Lecture Capture recordings. Instead, programmes and clips accessed via the Box of Broadcasts service may be embedded directly within the Virtual Learning Environment using the embed codes provided, for non-commercial, educational use.

If your intended reuse of third party copyright-protected material would not be covered by an applicable copyright exception, you must obtain copyright clearance (permission from the rights owner) before publishing your audiovisual content online – whether to a restricted audience or otherwise. Having correct, accurate attribution is very important – but unless the use is also fair dealing under an applicable copyright exception, acknowledging your sources is not enough. Permission to reproduce third party material must be sought and obtained prior to reproducing protected works, in these circumstances.

Copyright Clearance

Seeking permission to reuse third party copyright-protected material is essential if your use is not covered by a copyright exception, especially if your audiovisual production is to be made publicly available online (e.g. on YouTube). You should not expect to rely on a copyright exception as an alternative to seeking permission – and it may be more difficult to rely on an exception if you have already sought permission and been quoted a fee. Instead, you should first determine whether your prospective use is likely to be within the scope of an applicable copyright exception, and only seek permission if this is not the case.

It is important that you are able to identify the source of any third party copyright-protected material, both to give appropriate accompanying attribution and so you can request permission from the rights owner, where necessary, to reuse their work. Please refer to the permissions guidance notes and template before requesting copyright clearance from a third party. If you cannot identify the author or publisher of the material, or you hear nothing back from the person you contacted, do not simply presume that you can use the material. Contact the Copyright & Compliance Officer for further advice and guidance on copyright-related matters.

Permission from the copyright owner should generally take the form of a written licence, providing authorisation to use the material in the manner requested. Licences do not transfer ownership of the copyright – they just provide permission (which may be temporary) to reuse the work (in ways that may be limited and specific). Obtaining permission provides certainty that the copyright owner will not object to your reuse – as long as you abide by any terms and conditions specified in the permissions licence.

Note that some copyright owners prefer to grant permission more broadly, to anyone who might be interested in reusing the work, subject to a standard set of terms and conditions. For example, Creative Commons licences grant blanket permission for reuse in a variety of contexts, meaning you do not need to seek additional permission to use CC-licensed material, if your intended use is covered by the licence.

The use of commercially produced music to soundtrack a video production is usually subject to copyright clearance and the payment of royalties imposed by record companies and music publishers for the use of their artists' music, lyrics, performances and recordings, so be prepared to cover the cost of this and always obtain permission. Purchasing a CD or download does not grant the rights to reuse the music, and due to the costs involved, it is strongly advised that you avoid using any commercial recordings in audiovisual content.

Note that uploading any copyright-protected excerpts from music, film, television or radio to platforms such as YouTube is likely to constitute copyright infringement unless you have cleared all the rights in the programme or broadcast first. YouTube uploads are automatically scanned against their database of copyright-protected works and any content matches – including melodies of songs – are flagged to the relevant rights owner, who may decide to block, monetise, or mute the uploaded video. If you use such material without obtaining copyright permission, your video could be taken down at the insistence of the rights owner and your account might be blocked.


Generally, the first owner of copyright in a sound recording is the producer, and the first owner of copyright in a film is the producer and the principal director, jointly (although this could be the same person). Sound recordings and films produced by University employees in the course of their employment belong to the University of Reading, although individual members of staff should be acknowledged for their contribution to such productions.

In the case of joint ventures (such as a jointly hosted conference between two institutions), if the recording and production are shared equally between the partners, copyright in the final production will belong equally to both institutions. For joint staff-student ventures, or any other kind of contribution (such as screenwriting) made by students, the University may require the student to assign their rights in the project to the University (see the IP Code for details), before the production can be published online.

If a third party is providing 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 if the ownership or use of intellectual property is unclear, or for further advice contact the Copyright & Compliance Officer via

Things to do now

Access the Image Release Forms here.

Contact the Copyright & Compliance Officer