web design

Is it illegal to post youth pictures on the church website?

Written by Mark Steinbrueck

Throughout the month of September, OurChurch.Com has been discussing the importance of using good quality images on your church website.  However, is it legal to post pictures of people from your church on the church website and if so, what does the church need to do to make sure that the images they use are allowed to be used on the website?

According to Lawyers.com, in most cases, it is legal for you to post pictures of children and adults to your church website.  There are some cases where they state that it is not allowed, so I suggest reading this article.

However, even if it is legal, to ensure that you don’t have any issues with members and attenders at your church, there are some “best practices” that your church should follow when using images of people from your church on the church website.  Following these will help prevent conflict and relational issues at your church.

The best way to use images in the church website design is to get written permission from people.  Getting written permission may seem like a huge task, however, there are ways to do this systematically that make it much easier.  Check out these…

Five Tips for Using Images of People from Your Church Online

  1. Whenever someone joins your church and is completing any paperwork, include an image permission/release form giving the church permission to use their picture/video in promotional materials.
  2. When a child is dropped off in the “kids zone” or Sunday school class and the parent is providing their contact information and filling out any forms, include an image permission/release form letting the parent know that there may be photos or videos taken of their child that may be used by the church.
  3. Permission/release forms should also be included in the paperwork that parents submit for a youth retreat, VBS, or other youth activity.
  4. Signs at the entrance.   In the video era we are in, many churches either stream live or video record their services which may result in members and visitors of the church being shown in the video.  If your church does this, you should post signs at each entrance of the church letting everyone know that the service is being recorded and published to the public.  It may also be wise to designate a certain section of the sanctuary/auditorium that will not be recorded in case there are those attending who do not want to be recorded.
  5. When you use the image online, do not include any identifying information (name, address, phone number, grade level, school, etc) that would help identify people in the image.  Also, do not include any of this information in the file name of the image.

Before taking photographs of people at your church, it is always best to make people aware. -Mark Steinbrueck

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I would like to hear from you and get your input on how your church handles images on the church website and social media.  Please post your comments and suggestions below.

If you are interested in talking about a new website for your church, please contact us here.

We at OCC are not lawyers, so you may want to check with your local or state government to see if there are any specific laws that you need to adhere to.

About the author

Mark Steinbrueck

Mark Steinbrueck is President and Co-founder of OurChurch.Com. He is a member of Generations Christian Church, a husband and father of 3. He is a huge Cardinals baseball fan and bleeds Garnet and Gold. Find on Google+.

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