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We just finished our first Sunday of Rotation! Happy to report it went VERY well! As we have moved through the summer preparing our rooms I've been shooting like crazy with the digital camera and am now beginning to take pics of kids on our workshops to be put onto our church's website. My question: Do we need a release from parents to post kids pictures?

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I can't say what the law is, or if your denomination has policy guidelines, but I think it would be a very good idea.
For sure I would not identify the children by name.
Jan Snell
We have a fairly simple photo release (not legally checked out, but we feel it communicates to parents our intent) stating that no names or identifying info would be attached to photos of those under 18. It was included in all VBS sign-up material and now we plan to do the same for workshop registration. When a nametag was visible on a scanned photo, we were able to "edit" a block over it and "erase" the possibility of someone reading that nametag. We ask for a photo release for adults too, whether for the website or future church publicity or brochures.

Hi Cheri,
You're getting good advice here.

Here's more...

I've researched numerous copyright issues related to Christian education, including the use of photos of children on the net.


"Privacy" laws vary from state to state but the general RULE OF LAW is that you DO NOT NEED a release IF your photos were taken in a public place, such as a church, and IF your use is non-commercial in nature, does not slander or impune someone's character, and cannot be construed or used in an inappropriate way.


Many states now go a step further saying that taking any photo of children which may be broadly interpreted as "sexual" in nature, or inappropriate by community standards, are against the law.  This can include innocently taken photos even by parents. Discretion is required.


Regarding Consent Forms:


There is no legal requirement to obtain written consent from a person, child or adult, if that photo is appropriate, and was taken in a public place.


If you are in a public place, anyone can be photographed without their permission -provided the photo is appropriate and doesn't violate any deceny standards (see above). This is a historic limit on our "right to privacy" which the courts continue to affirm. The courts consider church a "public" place, btw.  


We in the church, however, should have a COURTESY PERMISSION REQUIREMENT.


Some churches 'require' a written photo release, but most that I've run into simply require parent's verbal consent.


As a rule, I always ask parents the "first time" if I can post their child's photo to our Facebook or web page, and consider their consent a blanket consent for future posts as well.  I also always ask the child too.  Around the age of 14, I just ask the student.


I have never ever had a parent complain, or say "no".  But then, I only post good photos, not embarrassing or odd ones.


Add to: I see other members taking photos at events, and always ask to see their photos. I've never run into a situation where someone was taking inappropriate photos, but I think it's good ministry to let people know we notice such things.






As we know, all photos on your church website are indexed by search engines like Google, and can be viewed by anyone. 


Here's a tip to keep Google from indexing your photo under the title of "young girls" and such. (Oy, what a world.)


Name your photo files with numbers such as "017.jpg" instead of "girlsatpool.jpg"


<>< Neil MacQueen

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