Can (and should) we publish the name of a student who tested positive for COVID-19?

Every week, Student Press Law Center attorneys answer a frequently asked question about student media law in “Ask SPLC.” Q: Recently, we had a student at our school test positive for COVID-19. He lived in an on-campus dorm and rumors are starting to fly, many of them inaccurate. He has not gone public, but we have… Continue reading Can (and should) we publish the name of a student who tested positive for COVID-19?

Can we create an online directory of alumni that includes their photos and graduation dates?

Every week, Student Press Law Center attorneys answer a frequently asked question about student media law in “Ask SPLC.” Q: Can we (student media staff) create an online directory of alumni that includes their photos and graduation dates? A: You can certainly create a directory that includes the names and graduation dates of former students. No special… Continue reading Can we create an online directory of alumni that includes their photos and graduation dates?

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?

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?

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?

Do I need to be a citizen of a state to request records there?

Q: I am hearing rumors that a recently hired school official was fired from his job at a public college in another state and would like to find out more. Do I need to be a citizen of that state to request records? A: In most cases no. The vast majority of states do not require… Continue reading Do I need to be a citizen of a state to request records there?

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?

Can I be suspended for a social media post?

Q: Can the principal of my school suspend me for a social media post on my private account during non-school hours?  A: Probably not, but there is reason to be cautious about this type of behavior. There was a time when the line between on- and off-campus activities was clear. And generally so was the law.… Continue reading Can I be suspended for a social media post?

Are student government election results at a public high school public records?

Q: Are student government election results at a public high school public records? My school only announces who won and does not provide the actual vote tally.  A: The answer will probably depend on the wording of your state’s open records law. In the only case we are aware of to date, the Virginia State Supreme Court declined to… Continue reading Are student government election results at a public high school public records?