Legal requirements

Publishing web pages on University websites can bring web editors into some difficult and complex areas of legal and commercial responsibility. Web editors should be aware of the following legal requirements.

  • Accessibility
  • Advertising and sponsorship
  • Copyright and acknowledgement
  • Links to third party information
  • Freedom of information
  • Managing forms data
  • Offensive material
  • Usage policies
  • Web page footer

The University reserves the right to remove any pages that are deemed inappropriate.  


It is not only good practice to make your pages as accessible as possible – it is also a legal requirement. Staff in all areas of the University need to be aware of their duties with regards to preparing web content for audiences with a variety of disabilities.

W3C web accessibility guidelines

The W3C, the governing body of the Internet, has put together a set of web accessibility guidelines, which are seen as the current standard for accessibility. There are three priority levels specified throughout the W3C guidelines. By law we are required to meet priority level one and we are working towards meeting priority levels two and three. The guidelines on this site are an overview of the areas of the W3C standards that relate to University web editors.

The Special Education Needs and Disability Act

The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 (SENDA) amended the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 to make unjustified discrimination by education providers against disabled pupils, students and adult learners unlawful. SENDA also means that education providers must make reasonable adjustments, to ensure that people with disabilities in education do not suffer a substantial disadvantage in comparison to people who are not disabled.

Learn more at the Office of Public Sector Information website 

Disability Equality Duty

Amendments to the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) made in December 2006 place an obligation on all public bodies, including the University, to promote disability equality and eliminate unlawful discrimination. The University has a Disability Equality Scheme and action plan in place to meet its duties.

Learn more about disability rights

Making a website accessible is the process of ensuring that the content is open to all users – regardless of the speed of their connection, their choice of web browser or any disability they may have.

The Quality Assurance Agency

The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) Code of Practice has been integrated into the QAA audit scheme and will seek to ensure that ‘students with disabilities have access to a learning experience comparable to that of their peers’.

Learn more at the QAA website

Admissions Code of Practice

The code of practice for the admissions of students to the University of Birmingham states: ‘The University will at all times seek to operate procedures that are fair and are in accordance with the law of the United Kingdom, the University’s Charter, Statutes, Ordinances and Regulations, and the rules of natural justice. This includes specific compliance with legislation relating to discrimination (eg, Race Relations Amendment Act, Sex Discrimination Act and the Disability Discrimination Act, etc) and Clause 13 of the University Charter.’

View the University Charter (PDF 112KB)

Learn more:
Find out how to make your pages accessible

Advertising and sponsorship


  • The University website must not be used for unsolicited advertising and any type of banner advertisement or pop-up is not allowed.
  • It is not possible for the University to allow advertising of commercial ventures on its website without implying a relationship with the organisation, and therefore an endorsement. The University does not enter into such agreements due to the potential business and legal difficulties such endorsements could create.


Links to commercial services or vendors are permitted in the following circumstances:

  • Where a link provides reference material, resources or information for educational or strategic related purposes that advance the University’s work in teaching, research or efficient administration
  • Where licensed software is needed for viewing web content; eg, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Windows Media Player, Apple QuickTime, etc


Where a specific University project or activity has received sponsorship from a company, it is acceptable to recognise this on the University website. You can display the company’s logo and link to their website, adhering to the following rules:

  • Include a statement acknowledging the relationship, eg; ‘Sponsored by xxx’, ‘Funded by xxx’, ‘A partnership with xxx’
  • The logo should not be larger or more prominent than the University logo
  • If the logo is required on a number of subsequent pages it should be positioned at the bottom of the page
  • It is acceptable for the logo to link to their website provided the image alt text states ‘xxxx website’
  • You should obtain copyright permission for use of the logo
  • You should not include logos or links to organisations, companies, products or services which are in direct competition with the University


Copyright is a property right intended to protect the rights of those who create works of various kinds.

This includes:

  • Literary, dramatic and musical works
  • Artistic and illustrative works
  • Film, video, audio and broadcast work

All web editors need to be aware of the copyright issues surrounding the use of third-party material on the University of Birmingham web pages. You should not take material from other sites and publish it on your site without the relevant copyright permission or acknowledgement.

If you wish to use any images, photographs, video, audio, text, logos, that are not owned by the University, you must ask permission to do so.

The University’s legal section (linked to from the web page footer) also contains information about copyright

Data protection and managing web forms

The Data Protection Law in the UK, that is the combination of the Data Protection Act 2018 and the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), requires that personal data are minimized and kept securely. This means that editors of website and intranet forms in Contensis should keep forms data that for an activity that is currently taking place, such as collecting bookings for an upcoming event, registering participants for an upcoming conference or gathering feedback from an activity or service. Once the gathering activity has been achieved, the data should not be kept on Contensis but, if storing is required, in a secure location such as University shared folder.

It is also important to demonstrate to a user how their data is used, and the relevant privacy notice that they are agreeing to when submitting their data.

Where a user is submitting a form and receiving further information for us (ie an email for an invite), consent should be clear and collected at an appropriate time, explaining why we are collecting the information. This means providing a link to the relevant privacy notice before they submit information to us, separate consent for example to book for an event and separate consent to receive further communication related to other events or marketing.

Find out more about how to manage forms data in the website and intranet to ensure that it complies with data protection laws.

Links to third party information

The University website links to many third party information providers who are not affiliated with the University of Birmingham.

The University of Birmingham does not endorse any of these sites, nor the information or merchandise contained or offered by these sites.

All University web pages should contain a link in the footer to the University’s legal section, see the web page footer section. This includes a legal disclaimer covering all links to third party information from the University's Legal pages

Social media

When using social media sites, wikis and blogs, you must not include any material (words or pictures) that is defamatory, offensive, illegal or indecent. Social media sites must not be used to threaten or harass others. For more information, see the offensive material section.

Material on social media sites must also comply with the following legal requirements:

  • Data protection
  • Copyright
  • Freedom of information

Remember that anything you publish on social media sites is picked up by search engines and could be available for months in cached form even after you remove it.


Student society or club pages, personal homepages, blogs and wikis must contain the following disclaimer:

These pages are the responsibility of xxxx. The views here do not necessarily represent official views of the University of Birmingham.

The web page should display the disclaimer or contain a ‘disclaimer’ link which links to the disclaimer statement.

Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 requires all public authorities to make information available proactively through a publication scheme. The University has a legal obligation to make information free and available for the public apart from exceptional cases.

The Model Publication Scheme

The University of Birmingham has a Model Publication Scheme that lists classes of information which public authorities are expected to make publicly available. The scheme classifies information in the following seven areas:

  • Who we are and what we do
  • What we spend and how we spend it
  • What our priorities are and how we are doing
  • How we make decisions
  • Our policies and procedures
  • Lists and registers
  • The services we offer

The University of Birmingham publishes large volumes of information on its website; by entering a query into the search engine, or by using the navigation on the University’s website,users should be able to find the information they are looking for.Most of the information under the scheme is freely made available on our website or is available to download.

Learn more:
Freedom of Information

Offensive material

Web editors should be vigilant when uploading material to the University website to ensure that no web content, which may be considered defamatory, offensive or indecent, is published.

All staff are required to observe the following conditions from the University of Birmingham General Conditions of Use of Computing and Network Facilities (PDF 552KB)  


Defamation is the communication of a statement that makes a false claim that may give an individual, business, product, group, government or nation a negative image. Content on the University website must not contain any statements which may harm a company, person or institution’s reputation.

It is a disciplinary offence to use a University computer, computer system or computer network for the creation, storage or transmission of material that is designed to or is likely to cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety, or is defamatory.

Indecent or offensive material

It is a disciplinary offence to use a computer, computer system or computer network for the creation, storage or transmission of any offensive, obscene or indecent images, data or other material.


The use of University computers and computer network facilities in order to carry out or facilitate racial, sexual or any other form of harassment commits a disciplinary offence.

The University website must not be used to threaten or harass others.

Usage policies

All University staff are required to observe the following usage policies:

General conditions of use

The General Conditions of Use of Computing and Network Facilities apply to all computer users and to all computer equipment within or operated by the University. This includes all staff, students and any third parties who have been granted access to University computing facilities or data. Breach of the Conditions of Use is a disciplinary offence which may result in the suspension of access to the Network and University Computing facilities and further disciplinary proceedings.

General Conditions of Use of Computing and Network Facilities (PDF 552KB)


The University is a member of JANET, the UK’s education and research network. JANET connects the UK’s education and research organisations to each other, as well as to the rest of the world through links to the global Internet. As a member, the University must abide by the JANET acceptable use policy.

Read the full policy on the JANET website

Computer misuse

The Computer Misuse Act 1990 makes it a criminal offence to:

  • Gain, or attempt to gain, unauthorised access to a computer system with intent to commit or facilitate the commission of a serious crime
  • Gain, or attempt to gain, unauthorised access to computer material, programmes or data
  • Make unauthorised modification of computer material

Read the Computer Misuse Act

Web page footer

All University web pages and web forms must have a link in the page footer to the University's Legal pages.

The University legal section covers:

  • General Site Disclaimer
  • Copyright
  • Links to Third Party Information
  • Trademark
  • Privacy Statement
  • Freedom of Information Act

Please make sure you include a link to the University’s legal section in the footer of your web pages on all non-CMS University sites including applications, online forms, surveys, transactional sites and pages.



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