Ask SPLC: Do we have the right to reject advertisements?

Q: Is my newspaper legally responsible for online comments that someone outside of our organization may post? A: If the comments are made by outsiders and not your own staff, the Communications Decency Act provides legal shield to you and your website. These protections apply even if you are aware of objectionable content or voluntarily screen… Continue reading Ask SPLC: Do we have the right to reject advertisements?

Ask SPLC: Can we use an image found online to illustrate a movie review?

Q: We're reviewing a new movie (or a new song, video game, TV show, book, etc.). Can we use an image we found online as an illustration? A: Yes, but you have to be selective. As a general rule, most of material that you find online — whether it's a photo, a story, music, etc. — is… Continue reading Ask SPLC: Can we use an image found online to illustrate a movie review?

Ask SPLC: Can private school advisers safely testify in support of a protective student media policy?

Q: I am a student media adviser at a public high school whose principal has censored several articles over the years. Last week he did it again for no other reason, he said, than "it made the school look bad." This has prompted my students to ask the school board to pass a new, more protective… Continue reading Ask SPLC: Can private school advisers safely testify in support of a protective student media policy?

Ask SPLC: A student was arrested, can I use their name in my story?

Q: A minor at your school has been arrested of a crime you think is important enough to report on because it involves the student council president and has implications to your school and community. You have obtained the police report. A parent of that student tells you over the phone that they intend to… Continue reading Ask SPLC: A student was arrested, can I use their name in my story?

Ask SPLC: Can I use a popular song for a video?

Q:We are putting together a highlight reel of our football team's season that we'll show on our school's cable student TV station. Can we use Queen's song "We Will Rock You" as background music? A: Unfortunately no.  The general rule is that if you've not created a copyrighted work yourself you must either obtain prior explicit… Continue reading Ask SPLC: Can I use a popular song for a video?

Covering protests and demonstrations: Staying safe if your campus is next to be “occupied”

As the Occupy Wall Street movement gathers steam in both New York City and at satellite locations across the country and internationally, some of those covering the event for commercial media have been called out for watching from afar, failing (or refusing) to take the time to talk with the protesters and hear their message.

Pennsylvania court says it’s okay for college to snoop on student email

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 Surprise Yourself!

— Elizabethtown College recruiting slogan

A former student at Elizabethtown College was, indeed, probably surprised earlier this month after a Pennsylvania federal district court ruled that the school broke no rules when it hired an investigation service to snoop on his email account without his knowledge.In a

Supreme Court rejects Upside Down First Amendment claim

The U.S. Supreme Court today rejected a First Amendment claim by a Nevada lawmaker who argued that the state's conflict of interest laws requiring elected officials to recuse themselves from governance votes on issues where they have a conflict of interest violated his free speech rights.It was an odd, but important case.  In a nutshell, the case involved Sparks, Nev., city councilman Michael A.