Digital publishing and software licensing

Including digital and video images of pupils on school websites can be motivating for the pupils involved, enabling them to write about their work for a wide audience, and providing a good opportunity to celebrate and promote the work of the school.

Managing risk

The main risks are that the images may easily be edited inappropriately and/or misused or that pupils, particularly those who are subject to emergency child protection orders or care orders may be personally identified and attract unsolicited attention.

To manage these risks, consider:

  • Asking for parental permission to cover use of such photographs throughout the school year (see Code of Practice) before using images of pupils on the website or elsewhere
  • Consider using group photos rather than full-face photos of individual children
  • Keeping names and images separate: an easy rule to remember is:  If the pupil is named, avoid using their photograph. If a photograph is used, avoid naming the pupil
  • Create a procedure for checking the website, reporting the use of inappropriate images to reduce the risks to pupils, and responding to any such report

Making and storing digital and video images

Schools should consider how digital and video images are captured and stored within the school, and develop guidelines for the protection of both pupils and staff.

Consider, for the protection of staff, how it would be appropriate for staff members to use personal digital cameras or camera phones on field trips, and how such images should be appropriately transferred back to the school.  For example, a school may create a centralised area on the school’s network for storing digital images of pupils, with suitable security for accessing the images, along with a deletion policy for when images are no longer required, or the pupil has left the school.

Obscene publication provision

Article 3 of the Protection of Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 created the offence of “making” an indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph of a child.  “Making” covers, for example, the situation where a person downloads an image from the Internet or copies a computer hard drive.   Section 46 creates a limited defence where a person “making” such a photograph or pseudo-photograph can prove that it was necessary for him to do so for the purposes of the prevention, detection or investigation of crime, or for the purposes of criminal proceedings.  This defence is intended to reassure people such as police officers, staff of the Internet Watch Foundation, and staff in Internet Service Providers (ISP) and systems management who have a role in identifying and securing such data for evidential and investigative purposes, that they can do so without fear of prosecution. The creation of the defence is not intended to encourage individuals to undertake their own unauthorised investigations.

The Data Protection Act is unlikely to apply in many cases where photographs are taken in schools and other educational institutions. Fear of breaching the provisions of the Act should not be wrongly used to stop people taking photographs or videos.

Guidance on taking photographs in schools is available from the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Copyright and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

Copyright gives the creators of materials control over how they are used. Copyright protection comes into force as soon as something – which includes software and music, clip-art and images found on the Internet, as well as images and text - is created or fixed in some way, including electronically.

Intellectual property rights are a series of legal rights that give protection for different types of invention, design, brand name or original creation.

Further information is available on the Copyrights and Schools website .

A range of legislation relates to both copyright and to intellectual property.  For a school the issues are:

  • ensuring that there is no breach of copyright or theft of the intellectual work of others, however published, including digital music, clip-art images and software in either digital teaching resources and/or pupil coursework / homework
  • protecting IPR in its own resources, especially in its own website
  • the publication by staff of resources created in the employer’s time
  • ensuring that any software used in school is properly licensed for the level of use intended
  • teaching pupils and staff how to assess the validity of websites and what is published online

Schools should actively discourage any kind of plagiarism or intellectual theft and teach pupils how to conduct Internet research in an acceptable way.  In coursework and homework, the results of Internet research which are directly copied and not acknowledged and referenced should be marked down and, if necessary, failed.

Fair dealing with a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work for the purposes of research or private study does not infringe any copyright in the work.

Creative Commons Licenses

Creative Commons Licensing allows you to use and reuse creative work for example a photograph, a song, a web page or an article freely without permission but under certain conditions.

Such works are marked as free to use with only "some rights reserved." If you respect the rights they have reserved then you can use the work without having to contact them and ask. In some cases, you may even find work in the public domain - that is, free for any use with "no rights reserved."

Northern Ireland versions of CC Licenses are being prepared; in the meanwhile it is acceptable to use the English licenses.

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