Update, 9/11: A spokeswoman for the school district said that students will not be transferred out of the yearbook class if they don’t sign the contract. The article has been updated to reflect this.
The Texas high school that made headlines over the summer for ordering a student to stop selling photos of school sports is now requiring students in the yearbook class to sign an agreement that the district owns the copyright to any work they produce.
Students who don’t sign the contract — essentially a work for hire agreement — may be denied access to district-owned equipment and/or press credentials, except for school-specific assignments.
The saga started last spring, when then-sophomore Anthony Mazur was told by Flower Mound High School administrators that he had to take down his online photo gallery of school sports photos, where he was selling pictures for $5 each to interested parents. The school officials told Mazur that he was violating copyright law because the photos were taken with school’s camera, and that it was a violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, a federal student privacy law, to post the pictures of student athletes online.
His situation made national headlines and sparked an online campaign, #IAmAnthony, where other photographers and journalists voiced their support.
Mazur appealed the decision, and in June, the Lewisville Independent School Board set aside the order and allowed Mazur to use his own camera equipment to “photograph LISD events open to the public, and from public viewing areas,” a spokeswoman said at the time.
At the time, Mazur said he was concerned that the district declined to define any future policies. Mazur is now the photo editor of the yearbook, according to his Twitter biography. He is refusing to sign the contract.
We’ve reached out to school and district officials for comment and will post an update when they respond. In the meantime, here’s a video of Student Press Law Center attorney advocate Adam Goldstein explaining the latest situation — and why it’s probably not legal.