Postcard from Orlando and the Student Television Network (STN) Conference

Nearly two thousand high school broadcasts journalists, filmmakers and their teachers have landed in Orlando, Fla., this week to take part in the 8th annual Student Television Network.

And nearly all of them are packing. Cameras and mics, that is. They’re everywhere as the students — some behind, some in front of the cameras — rush to meet production deadlines for the many contests available to attendees. The energy and creativity is wonderful to watch.

Once again, the SPLC is here — scheduled between workshop sessions on tips for live reporting, storyboarding, digital editing and multimedia — to talk about the rules (because, as Seinfeld says, that’s what lawyers do). And once again, the rules that are clearly most on the mind of attendees are those concerning copyright. Variations on the “30-second rule” question have come up a number of times (in short, there is no blanket rule that allows you to use 30-seconds of music or video in your project without permission), but there have also been questions about administrators confiscating cameras and tape recorders (generally illegal), taping elementary school-aged students at public events (generally legal), whether Facebook pics are copyrighted (they are), music licensing (for which we have a fresh new guide)  the laws relating to the taping and streaming/posting of school athletic events online (a very hot topic these days) and even: should I go to law school (that’s a tough one)?

The convention continues through Saturday.