User Generated Content FAQ

What does the BBC mean by User Generated Content?

User generated content ("UGC"), also commonly known as 'citizen journalism', 'social media' or 'participatory media', refers to a wide variety of media content that is produced by our audiences as opposed to content made by the BBC, independent production companies or individual contributors commissioned by BBC.

In recent years UGC has expanded due to developing technologies that are now readily available, including digital video and images, mobile text messages, blogging, message boards, emails and audio submissions.

'UGC', as referred to in these FAQs and covered by the BBC's Terms of Use, includes any content produced by our audiences/users which is submitted to or shared with the BBC either directly or indirectly.

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What rights am I granting the BBC to use my work?

You are granting the BBC a licence, or permission, to use your work, but you still own the work. Further, the rights to use UGC granted to the BBC are non-exclusive which means that you can continue to use your content as you like including the ability to also allow others to use it.

The BBC's Terms of Use provide the BBC with permission to use any UGC submitted to/shared with the BBC free of charge across any of its services both in the UK and worldwide.

While these may seem like quite wide rights, the BBC operates a large number of services and these are the BBC's standard terms covering the wide variety of types of UGC submitted to the BBC for a large number of purposes. To be able to use your content (such as showcasing a photo on or a short video clip on the BBC's television News) the BBC needs sufficient rights to use the material as proposed by individual UGC projects.

The terms also include the ability for the BBC to be able to sub-license UGC to trusted third parties such as other international broadcasters in the case of News UGC, and/or trusted third parties such as local councils or other public bodies if requested and for appropriate purposes. If the BBC shares any of your content with any of its trusted partners, it will endeavour to ensure that they do not alter your material in any way or allow them to provide it to other UK based broadcasters or to the print media. The BBC will also endeavour to inform you when accepting UGC about how it will be used.

While UGC may on occasion be included in BBC services that are licensed to other international broadcasters, and international users of the BBC site may see some advertising around certain pages of the site, any such use of user content is incidental and the BBC does not directly generate any revenue from individual pieces of UGC.

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What rights do I retain in my work when I submit it to the BBC?

If you submit any content to or share any material with the BBC (including any text, photographs, graphics, video or audio) you will retain the copyright in your work. As the non-exclusive licence to the BBC is only a permission for the BBC to use (and potentially sub-license) the content you can also continue to use your content in any way you wish including using it yourself and/or allowing others to use it.

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What do I need to do when submitting material to the BBC?

When you submit content to or share material with the BBC, you must only submit/share your own original content or if your content does contains the work(s) of others (e.g. music, images and/or video) you must have obtained the necessary rights or permissions to use that material.

If your content clearly identifies anyone else you will need to ensure that they have consented to the content being used by the BBC for the purposes for which you submitted it and/or any other uses by the BBC. Where your content clearly identifies children under the age of 16 you must ensure that their parent or guardian has provided the consent set out above.

The BBC also requires that you do not submit/share any content that is defamatory, offensive or unlawful in any way. Any inappropriate content will be rejected or taken down by the BBC. If in doubt, please do not share your content with the BBC.

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Will the BBC credit me when it uses my material?

The BBC will endeavour to credit any UGC submitted to or shared with it where that content features in or is showcased on any BBC services. Unfortunately for operational and technical reasons this is not always possible. For example, where an individual image is included within a television programme the BBC is unlikely to be able to credit the copyright owner of that image.

Where you share your content with the BBC that is located on a third party website such as Flickr, YouTube or MySpace the BBC will also endeavour to link back to the original location of that content where technically and editorially possible.

If you would prefer for the BBC not to credit you for whatever reason please let us know when submitting your material.

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Will the BBC amend my contribution at all?

In the majority of instances, the BBC does not amend, edit or alter any material submitted to or shared with the BBC. Due to technical or operational limitations the BBC may have to slightly amend content such as cropping images to be able to use them. The BBC will endeavour not to make any significant editorial amendments to your work without your consent.

Where the BBC shares any UGC with any trusted third parties it will also endeavour to ensure that they do not alter your material in any material way.

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How long will the BBC keep my contribution?

The BBC will generally only keep your content for as long as is reasonably required for the purpose(s) for which it was submitted. For example, the BBC will only keep copies of entries to a photographic competition for the duration of the competition. However other projects (e.g. the People's War website) are likely to have a longer, or even permanent, duration.

The BBC, as a publicly funded organisation, also has an obligation to record snapshots of history which may include some UGC. Therefore, some content submitted to or shared with the BBC may be retained for prolonged periods of time or potentially indefinitely in the BBC's Archive, which is true of News contributions which are published. There may also be rare instances where we will share your contribution with third parties in the interests of maintaining historical archives (e.g. contributions about people's experiences in the World War II were given to the Imperial War Museum). Where possible, we will endeavour to inform contributors upfront or let them know at a later date where we are likely to keep content indefinitely or pass it onto an approved historical archive.

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When and why will the BBC contact me in relation to my UGC?

The BBC may need to contact you to authenticate or verify your content and/or obtain further information about your work. If we are unable to contact you we may be unable to use your content for the particular purpose for which it was submitted. If, for whatever reason, the BBC cannot accept your content or has to reject it if it breaches the Terms of Use, the BBC will endeavour to let you know.

Occasionally the BBC also contacts contributors in relation to particular projects or if it would like to seek further consent to use your work for a purpose unrelated to that for which it was originally submitted to or shared with the BBC. You will be given the opportunity not to be contacted further.

For more information about the BBC contacting contributors, please see the BBC's Privacy Policy.

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Does the BBC pay for user generated content?

No, the BBC does not pay for any user generated content except in exceptional circumstances for BBC News.

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Will my content be used by the BBC?

The BBC receives a huge amount of content in various forms from our audiences every day. Given the large quantities of content submitted/shared, unfortunately the BBC can not use every individual piece of content. We therefore try to take a selection of the content that is submitted or shared with us and showcase as much of the best content as possible on the various BBC services. That said, where possible we will try to put up everything submitted such as with the BBC's message boards.

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What will happen if the BBC wants to use my contribution for some other purpose unrelated to what I submitted it for?

The BBC will endeavour to only use your content for the specific purpose, and any reasonably related purposes, for which it was submitted. If for example you submit a photo as part of a competition, the BBC may showcase that image on and on other BBC services for promoting that competition such as public exhibitions of the winning competition photos. If the BBC then decides it would like that photo to appear in a public exhibition or on a BBC web page unrelated to the specific competition we would consider this a potentially unrelated work and would then endeavour to obtain your further consent for this other usage.

Should the BBC later wish to use your contribution in such a way that would normally lead to a formal commission by the BBC then this would also be the case with your user generated material and we would contact you accordingly.

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Do the standard terms govern all submissions of content? For example, what terms apply when I submit something via my mobile or by post?

The BBC's Terms of Use governing the submission, acceptance and use of UGC will apply to the majority of UGC regardless of how it is submitted to or shared with the BBC. Some specific BBC UGC initiatives may have their own specific terms that vary from the standard terms, however, these will be made clear to you on the specific web pages or by other relevant means.

Please make sure that you are aware of the relevant terms that apply before submitting any content to the BBC.

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What happens when I share content with the BBC via a non BBC website such as MySpace or a BBC group on YouTube or Flickr?

Any submission of your content to any non-BBC website will be subject to that website's terms of use and privacy policy. Please be aware of a website's terms and privacy policy, which are likely to differ from the BBC's, when submitting your content to it. For example, some websites include a provision so that you assign all your rights in your content to the website owner. Some large UGC websites are also based in the US so your personal information may be stored outside the EU where different laws apply.

By sharing your content with a BBC group on a third party website or sending us a link to your content located elsewhere, you are also granting the BBC the rights to be able to use your content in accordance with the BBC's standard Terms of Use.

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What do I do if I see some UGC on that is offensive, inappropriate or infringing?

If you see some user generated material on that you think is offensive, infringes your or anybody else's copyright, is defamatory or is unlawful in any way the best way to let us know is by any local site specific methods such as the 'alert us about a message' links on all our message board pages, the 'complain about this post' links on some of our blogs and any local 'contact us' links.

If for whatever reason, there is no site specific means of letting us know your concerns or if the BBC has not responded in a timely manner, please contact us via the 'Complaint' link located on every page on However, please do not abuse this link.

If you think any UGC located within a BBC group hosted on a third party website is offensive, please use any complaint tools provided by that website or let the BBC administrator of that group know.

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