345. Photo and Video Release Forms

Updated July 1, 2021

Obtaining Permission for Publication Release versus Informed Consent

Permission for Publication Release

Because audio, video or digital recordings include images or voices of research participants, they pose a greater concern to the IRB than do data that do not have readily available identifying information. University and affiliate investigators are required to obtain permission to use images of study participants for research. In addition, all persons taking still photographs or videos for University-related research publications must obtain a signed release form from anyone who is visibly recognizable in the photograph. A release form may be used for this purpose, and a template for the form is available in the researcher libraries in IRBNet. Crowd scenes where no single person is the dominant feature are exempt from this requirement.

The release form requires the signature of the person whose image will be obtained and used for the research (or the parent if the participant is a child). The release form provides participants with information about how the images will be obtained and gives the participant the opportunity to specify how the images may be used.

Possible uses for images obtained for research relate to who will have access to the images and the reasons for that access:

  • The researchers may study the images and record information that relates to the study purpose.
  • Along with a report or manuscript describing the research findings, the images may be submitted for publication in scientific journals, presented at professional conferences, or presented in presentations to non-scientific groups.
  • The images may be used in classrooms to teach students about the research topic.

Informed Consent to Record and Use Participant's Images for Research

Informed consent refers to the process by which an investigator informs a participant about the research and obtains her/his agreement to enroll in the study. Depending on the level of risk, the participant's agreement may be documented by asking her/him to sign a consent form. Generally, when a participant signs a consent form, she/he is agreeing to all components of the research, as described in the consent form.

The informed consent document, because it describes the research to prospective participants, must include information about the recording and use of photo images and video images and sound. This information should:

  • describe the setting in which the recording will take place (e.g., participant will be seated in front of a computer); and
  • provide general information about the types of images that will be obtained (e.g., face, full body, hands, back of the head).
  • describe how recordings will be stored.

IRB Review of Research Involving Images of Participants

University and affiliate investigators planning to obtain and use participants' images for research must provide the IRB with information about how the images will be used and why the images are necessary for the research. The IRB will assess this information to consider both

  • the risks associated with obtaining and using the images for the research; and
  • the research benefits of having the images available.

Archiving Recordings for Future Research

Because the IRB recognizes the potential value in archiving recordings for future research, if an investigator wishes to archive recordings, the IRB requires the following information to consider the request:

  1. The application must include sound justification for archiving recordings indefinitely.
  2. The informed consent form must include the following:
    • A statement indicating where and how recordings will be stored and secured.
    • A statement indicating who will have access to recordings.
    • Space for participants to indicate whether they:
      • Want recordings to be destroyed by the timeframe specified, or
      • Permit the recordings to be archived for future research within a given research area (e.g., language development, spatial perception, conversational attributes).

Using Archived Recordings for Secondary Data Analysis

Any proposed use of already-archived recordings (i.e., secondary data analysis) must be reviewed by the IRB. A copy of the informed consent form from the original study must be submitted with the protocol application.