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Our Communications Department makes a concerted effort to go out into the community and take pictures from local events and gatherings. We use these photos on our web site, in our marketing materials and - most prominently - on our Facebook page.

We find that use of these pictures helps to increase engagement with our residents - who frequently enjoy seeing themselves or their kids prominently featured in our program guides and promotional advertising.

Lately, we've received several requests from area businesses to utilize the photos they find on our Facebook page for their own marketing purposes. Our department isn't against this idea (as long as we're properly credited), but it is leading us to wonder if we should develop an official policy regarding photo sharing.

I wanted to share this scenario to determine if any other local government agencies had developed a similar policy?

Tags: communication, marketing, photos, policy

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The biggest gotcha could be after you release the picture you no longer have any control on how the picture is used or misused.  IMO that is why a policy is mandatory.   Can be rather open but you need a method/reason for pulling the use of an image.

Thomas - I read a recent article posted on American City & County mag's web site about cities that are using photo archives for civic engagement. Perhaps they have policies related to sharing photos as well. The link is in my tweet:

Can #digital #history projects kindle community engagement? tinyurl.com/o45h2by via @AmerCityCounty

Hi, Thomas,

I've only experienced one situation when this was an issue for us. We were given permission by a professional photographer to use her photos. When someone requested hi-resolution copies for his marketing purposes, we told him that he would need to contact the photographer directly for a release.

We treat our photos like our other published resources--they're freely available except for commercial use (so, in our case, we would not authorize them for businesses to use). We've never--to my knowledge--actually enforced this, though.

The state of Mississippi's website, ms.gov, has a Flickr page where people can share their photos of Mississippi, which sounds a bit more like your situation. Their rules [http://www.flickr.com/groups/msgov/rules/] are pretty straightforward.

I hope this helps!

Kimberly

Tom,

My concern is around the people in your photos. Playing devil's advocate here, do you have releases from the subjects that allow you to put their photos on your site? If not, that might be the bigger problem because if you don't have their permission, even though the photo may have been taken at a public event, they might not like their photo (or that of their children) being put on a public website. If you do have their permission, through a signed release, it is probably for your department's official use, not for anything else. Or it is so broad that the signer may not realize that they are giving you permission to use it in more ways than the subject might have assumed or intended?

This leads to the second half of this. Here's my fictional scenario. I signed a release form that says you have my permission to use my daughter's photo of her catching the prize fish of the tournament for the city's website. Do I want her photo being used to promote "Johns' Bait and Tackle?" Maybe not because I use the other shop in town or I collect my own worms.

I would check witht the city attorneys about phot release policies and see what they have to say if you haven't looped them in already.

I hope you continue with the photos. They look great!

We have a terms of use page that outlines who can use our content and for what purposes. We don't have an issue with anyone using our content for informational/educational use, but do not allow commercial use of our images.

We have a Flickr page, but are not doing much with it. I'd like to be able to post those images to FB (sort of a "fan photo of the week") but will need to alter our ground rules before we do that.

I could see the City of Ankeny allowing local businesses to use the photos, but what happens when someone in another city (or another country) wants to use it? Do you charge non-local businesses for use?

Having a clear policy is necessary to being able to control the assets.

Our web terms of use includes this policy:

E. Use of material from this site
The Morris County government has made the content of these pages available to the public and anyone may view, copy or distribute Morris County government information found here without obligation to the Morris County government for non-commercial, personal use only, unless otherwise stated on particular material or information to which a restriction on free use may apply.

The design of this site, original graphics, and original content are all copyrighted by the County of Morris and may not be re-engineered, distributed, modified, transmitted, re-used, reposted, or duplicated without the express written permission of the County of Morris in each instance. All requests to use any part of the original design, code, graphics or content of this site should be made via e-mail to the Morris County Office of Public Information .

I'm not sure (legal question) how what you post on Facebook or Flickr (where we post our photos, pumarily) could be governed by other than the socual site's sharing policies. Our Office of Public Information makes it a point not to post front facing recognizable photos of children. We do post photos of children from behind. Or with faces turned, and when we do, we do not identify them by name.

Great question.  Can some of you share links to your policy on this?

Hi Tom,

 

When I read your question, I decided to head over to the Knowledge Network to see if we had any answers in the documents library. Fortunately, I was able to find:

Beyond that, I was unable to find another document that contained language specifically related to sharing content with outside agents, though you can find many other social media policies hosted on the Knowledge Network.

Best,

KG

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