Can we use photos of students on our school’s “do not picture” list?

Q: Our school has a group of students on a “do not picture” list because parents did not approve photo releases. Does our publication have to cut out any photographs these students may appear in? 

A: Legally, the answer is probably no. The “do not picture list” applies to official publications of the school, and the yearbook or newspaper is a work of the students. However, it may still be worth exploring whether it’s worth it to anger a parent who feels very strongly that their child is not photographed. In a situation like that, it may be worth eliminating any identifiable photos of that student so as to avoid a bigger issue.

Every week, Student Press Law Center attorneys answer a frequently asked question about student media law in “Ask SPLC.”

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