School Nativity Play – Is There Danger Lurking In The Manger?

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News Release

9th December 2021

With many of last year’s school nativity plays cancelled due to the pandemic, thousands of parents and children up and down the country will be excited to be bringing back the highlight of the season.

However, in the age of the smartphone this has meant that the show can often be dominated by proud parents filming and snapping eagerly away trying to capture the perfect picture of their ‘little darlings’. In recent years a number of schools have instigated privacy policies with some ruling that it is unacceptable to take pictures or videos of the show.

But what does the law say when it comes to videos and photographs of school events? Are schools able to impose and enforce a blanket ban? If you ignore the school’s photography policy, what legal action can they take against you? And if another parent posts a group picture featuring your child without permission, can you force them to take it down?

Lauren Woolf, Legal Adviser at DAS Law, looks at the photographic minefield that is the school nativity play…

My child’s school has a photography policy which states that there is a blanket ban on taking photos at the nativity play. Is this legal?

Any owner of private property may restrict the use of photography or video equipment on the premises. If ignored, you may be asked to leave and may be deemed to be trespassing if you refuse.

I signed my child’s schools consent form stating I won’t take any photos. What legal ramifications will I face should I choose to ignore the policy?

The consent form is unlikely to be legally enforceable as a contract if there is no financial loss to the school, and there are no laws generally against taking photographs of your own or other people’s children as long as the photographs are not deemed ‘indecent’ or are likely to have the effect of harming or harassing the children.

Are there any laws against sharing group shots of my child’s nativity play photos online?

As best practice, it is advisable that parents should avoid sharing photographs of children without obtaining prior consent of that child’s parent or guardian. However, as long as the photographs are not deemed ‘indecent’ or are likely to have the effect of harming or harassing them, then there is nothing legally stopping you from doing so.

What legal action can I take against people that share group photos of the school nativity play on social media that include my child without my permission?

You can ask the person to remove the photograph, however if they refuse there is no realistic legal action you can take. Privacy laws under the Human Rights Act cannot be enforced against other private individuals and unless you own the copyright in the photograph, or the image is offensive or indecent, then the social media site has no obligation to remove that photo if it is reported to them.

If I blur out other children’s faces can I share school play photos online?

You don’t have to blur out children’s faces in order to share them online, as the Data Protection Act doesn’t apply to photographs taken for private use and which do not identify the child (i.e. name them). However, if you would be concerned about images of your own child appearing without your permission, blurring out other children’s faces may be a sensible step to take.

Are schools able to host a performance online?

With the effects of covid-19 still being felt, many school nativities are being cancelled. On the other hand, some schools may be considering the possibility of an online performance whether that be live or pre-recorded.

When choosing the correct, schools need to consider a number of factors:

  • Risk assessments
  • Consent forms from parents as best practice
  • Copyright implications with regard to any music
  • Protecting the identity of any vulnerable children
  • How long the recording will be retained for
  • How the recording will be shared

Additional steps can be taken to ensure a higher level of security such as the use of smart devices which offer an encrypted file system unlike a memory card/stick that can easily be misplaced.

Disclaimer: This information is for general guidance regarding rights and responsibilities and is not formal legal advice as no lawyer-client relationship has been created.

– ENDS –

Media Contacts:

FWD Consulting: 020 7623 2368

Notes to Editors:

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