Marketing department drafts new photography consent form

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Following the launch of the “Take on Your World” marketing campaign in March 2012, St. Edward’s University is advertising across different media and through various platforms. Advertisements can include photos that are taken specifically for that purpose, and more recently, photos provided to the university by students. 

The Marketing Department is drafting a new Authorization and Release Form to dictate exactly how the university can publish photos provided to them by students, faculty or staff. Anyone who signs the new form gives consent to let the university “copy, exhibit, publish or distribute any and all photographs” he or she provides for use “in all forms and media throughout the world.”

The previous Authorization and Release Form only referred to pictures taken by an official St. Edward’s photographer, not photos provided by a student. However, these two forms are for two different situations: the existing form is signed by subjects in photos taken by Marketing, while the drafted form will be for people who are giving consent for Marketing to use personal photos.

The person providing the photos will be asked to sign the Authorization and Release Form which gives the university consent to use the images for marketing purposes, including advertisments on billboards and television, in print and online.

Previously, a concrete policy outlining the circumstances by which the Marketing Department could use photos submitted by members of the St. Edward’s community did not exist. University spokesperson Mischelle Diaz said St. Edward’s has just recently started using photos submitted by students for marketing purposes in the past six to nine months.

“One of the reasons we’re using student photography is because more and more students are studying abroad and study abroad global educational opportunities and new partner campuses in other countries are a huge part of the university’s strategic plan and our job is to communicate that and illustrate that and show that in action,” Diaz said.

Paige Booth, the supervisor of Marketing, would not provide information concerning the amount of funding that SEU uses on advertising campaigns each year, but did confirm that Marketing and the Office of International Education (OIE) often work together to create concepts for advertising study abroad programs.

Conflict arose regarding the use of images taken by students, faculty and staff came after a photo taken by alumnus Lindsley Howard was used in a poster advertisement for the OIE on campus without her prior knowledge.

Howard’s photo was included in a stack of photos taken by another student who had been traveling abroad during the summer. The person who submitted the photos, one of which was taken by Howard, wished to remain anonymous, but confirmed that they did not sign an Authorization and Release Form. Neither did Howard.

Howard then contacted the Marketing Department and complained regarding the use of the photo in an advertisement.

“Usually students are happy and excited to see themselves in posters around campus. I was very surprised she was so upset,” Diaz said.

Diaz said the department was in the process of developing the new release form at the time the photos were provided. The photographer submitted the photos with the understanding that they would be used in the university’s magazine, Diaz said. Following the incident, the posters were taken down at the request of the photgrapher Howard, and the student who submitted the photos.

“Students have been very gracious in letting us use their photos. The way that we’re doing marketing is changing and we have the need to use these students photos and students most of the time are very happy to share those photos for us to use them but this release form will obviously safe-proof any misunderstanding,” Diaz said.