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When I request records, do I have to explain why I want them?

Every week, Student Press Law Center attorneys answer a frequently asked question about student media law in “Ask SPLC.” Q: Am I required to explain why I want a particular record when submitting an open records request? A: Almost always, states and the federal government FOI laws make clear that the motivation behind an open records request is irrelevant.… Continue reading When I request records, do I have to explain why I want them?

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Are fonts subject to copyright protection?

Every week, Student Press Law Center attorneys answer a frequently asked question about student media law in “Ask SPLC.” Q: Are fonts subject to copyright protection? A: Yes. Fonts — which are basically computer programs or software that tell your printer or computer screen how to create the shape of a letter or character — meet all… Continue reading Are fonts subject to copyright protection?

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Can school officials search my personal social media accounts?

Every week, Student Press Law Center attorneys answer a frequently asked question about student media law in “Ask SPLC.” Q: Are school officials allowed to search for and look at my personal (non-school-affiliated) social media accounts without my permission? A: Yes. Once you post something online it’s pretty much fair game for anyone (school officials, current or… Continue reading Can school officials search my personal social media accounts?

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Can our newspaper wish students a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah”?

Every week, Student Press Law Center attorneys answer a frequently asked question about student media law in “Ask SPLC.” Can we wish students a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah” in our student publication? Generally, yes. Your school officials or even some of your peers may be quick to cite the separation of church and state as… Continue reading Can our newspaper wish students a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah”?

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Does FERPA prevent me from reporting on a fight between students at my school?

Every week, Student Press Law Center attorneys answer a frequently asked question about student media law in “Ask SPLC.” Q: Does FERPA prevent me from reporting on a fight that took place on my campus between two students? A: No. FERPA punishes schools that have a policy or practice of disclosing a student’s education records without the… Continue reading Does FERPA prevent me from reporting on a fight between students at my school?

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Can student journalists claim reporter’s privilege?

Q: Are student journalists allowed to claim reporter’s privilege to protect the identity of their sources? A: State reporter’s privilege laws allow journalists to withhold confidential newsgathering materials from the parties in a criminal investigation or a civil lawsuit. In most states, the shield applies to anyone who regularly gathers and distributes news to the public… Continue reading Can student journalists claim reporter’s privilege?

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Is there an age limit for requesting public records?

Q: Is there an age limit for requesting public records under an open records law? A: Currently, Louisiana is the only state that requires a requester be the “age of majority,” which in Louisiana is currently 18. Likewise, there is no age requirement to request federal records under the federal Freedom of Information Act. Every… Continue reading Is there an age limit for requesting public records?