Legal requirements for video and photo production

Last changed: 27 June 2023
Picture of Section and copyright sign.

What are the rules for photographing people, for example in the workplace or on our campuses? How may you use the images? Perhaps you have found an image online that you would like to use?

Listed below are the legal requirements for copyright, availability as well as collection and storage of personal data. These are things you must be mindful of when producing images or videos.


Copyright is very well protected in Swedish legislation. The originator of an artistic work (for example photos, paintings, films, illustrations or sculptures) always owns the moral rights to their works. Therefore, the works may not, in an offensive way, be cropped, distorted or used without the originator’s permission. In practice, not much is required for an alteration to be considered offensive. Furthermore, the name of the originator must always be mentioned when using their works. Moral rights cannot be transferred. This means that the originator, regardless of what happens, always has the right to be named as originator of the work.

Financial rights means that the originator alone can use their work(s) and decide whether it should be made available to the public or duplicated. This right enables the originator to profit financially from their work while they also get to decide whether someone else is allowed to use their work and also how they may use it. The originator can transfer their financial rights if they choose to. In that case, the person with the financial right to the work has it at their disposal and can therefore benefit financially from it. When SLU buys images from for example external photographers, depending on the type of agreement, we buy the financial rights to the work.

SLU owns the financial rights to works that have been created by photographers or media producers during their employment at the university. This means that SLU has the right to use images/films whenever we want without reimbursing the originators.

Can I use images that I find online?

It is illegal to download an image from the internet and then use it in your material unless it is expressly stated that the image may be downloaded and used in the way you like.

Using the internet and social media makes it much easier to copy and use image material without permission from the originator. However, it is still illegal. It is not enough to just name the source, the originator’s name and © to be allowed to publish an image. You cannot “quote” images as you can text. You must always ensure that you are allowed to use the image/video material in the way you wish before actually using it.

Remember the following:

  • When you order/purchase an image, you usually just buy the right to use it in a specific context, or in a specific size and edition. Think through how you want to use the image (including publishing in “future” media) before signing an agreement. If any of these details are altered, or if you want to reuse an image in another context or reprint, you must contact the originator again for their approval (they must often be reimbursed).
  • No offensive alterations can be made to the image material without the originator's permission (e.g. cropping, retouching, digital manipulation). In practice, not much is required for an alteration to be considered illegal.
  • You may not produce new examples of an image without the originator’s permission. This applies if you are creating a newspaper, printed material, publishing material on the internet or in an image register, etc. It is a good idea to regulate such alterations in an agreement beforehand.
  • Remember that if artworks, paintings or designed furniture are the main subjects of an image, the designer’s copyright becomes an issue. If you publish images of artworks, you may be financially liable.
  • Enter the originator’s name. Regardless of where the image comes from, the originator’s name must be displayed when using the image.

    SLU-produced images
    Enter the photographer’s name followed by SLU.
    Example: Photo: Julio Gonzalez, SLU

    Images purchased from e.g. photo agencies
    First, enter the photographer’s name followed by the agency/supplier.
    (Example: Photo: Juji Jumani/iStock)

    CC-licensed images
    There are different requirements for these images depending on their license.

    Ideal model: Enter the name of the work (link to the work), the originator’s alias (possible link), CC license (link to information on the license).

More on how to state the originator of CC-licensed images.

Unless you enter the originator’s name, SLU could be liable to pay damages. If there is not enough space, or you do not wish to enter the originator’s name for another reason, check with them if this is allowed and document it, for example through email contact.

Photographing or filming people – PUL (the Personal Data Act)/the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The basic rule is that you must get permission from people to film or photograph them if you want to use the material.

Do I have to have a written contract with the person(s) I photograph?

Oral agreements apply, but are difficult to prove. A good working method is to write a model agreement with anyone caught on camera, at least if they take up a large part of the screen or if they are clearly identifiable. The agreement should list how you intend to use the image, for how long (if it is for a limited period) and if it will be e.g. stored in SLU’s media bank and therefore be at the disposal of a third party, etc.

This way, you ensure that you always are legally allowed to photograph, store and use images in the way you intended. You should also be aware that the general data protection regulation has an addition stating that depicted people have the right to be erased if they wish to be. That means that they can request the image material to be erased at a later date. A written agreement can sometimes simplify the process of erasing stored material.

Feel free to use these forms:

Read more about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)


  • As a public authority, SLU must meet a number of requirements when publishing material, among other things the material must be accessible to a wide audience, including those with various types of disability. This requirement applies to all published material as well as to our external web and the staff web.

We must meet the following accessibility requirements:

  • Avoid twinkling and flickering lights in videos since they can cause epileptic seizures.
    Read more about WCAG 2.1: Guideline 2.3 Seizures and Physical Reactions

  • Offer a text-based option to image or video, i.e. a text-based summary of the video/image content. For still images, it is appropriate to use ALT text for this purpose.
    Read more about WCAG 2.1: Guideline 1.1 Text Alternatives

  • Subtitle recorded video, including audio content that is not talking.

    Bear in mind that help programs that control subtitles/text require that the text is separate from the image.
    Read more about WCAG 2.1: Guideline 1.2 Time-based media
    Read SLU's guidelines for subtitling

    Please note that live broadcasts are exempt from this legal requirement, but if the broadcast remains published afterwards, it counts as recorded video and must be subtitled without undue delay. What this means depends on the length and nature of the broadcast.

  • Add an audio description to your video content. As of 23 September 2020, all content published on public authorities’ external and internal webs must be audio described. This requirement might require that you create a separate version of the video since many players, Youtube included, do not support multiple audio tracks for one video.
    Read more about WCAG 2.1: Success Criterion 1.2.5 Audio Description

Filming with drones

Filming with drones counts as camera surveillance and is regulated by the Public Camera Surveillance Act. In order to film with a drone, you must submit an application and receive permission from the The Swedish Authority for Privacy Protection (IMY).

More information and documents for application:
Swedish Authority for Privacy Protection (IMY) (only some information in English)

In order to make sure that those depicted have consented to this you also need to inform staff and students when/if filming is taking place, through emails and temporary information signs.