Everyone with Internet access is a potential “publisher.” It’s crucial that everyone become more familiar with the legal and ethical issues that accompany gathering and distributing information, whether in print, over the airwaves, or online/digital/social platforms. These SPLC reference materials can be useful tools for self-study, or for teaching a class in journalism, media law, media literacy or civics.
Know your rights handouts
The SPLC’s media lawyers address the “greatest hits” from college and high school journalists, from freedom-of-information to protecting confidential sources.
- Know Your Rights: Libel and Privacy (8/18/2014) -
Some of the most frequently asked questions about defamation and privacy law.
- Know Your Rights: Freedom of Information (8/18/2014) -
Some of the most frequently asked questions about access to records and meetings.
- Know Your Rights: Copyright and Fair Use (8/18/2014) -
Some of the most frequently asked questions about the re-use of others' content.
- Know Your Rights: Confidentiality and Shield Laws (8/18/2014) -
Some of the most frequently asked questions about protecting sources and information.
- Know Your Rights: Cyberlaw and Online Publishing (8/18/2014) -
Some of the most frequently asked questions about content published on the internet.
- Know Your Rights: Advertising (8/18/2014) -
Some of the most frequently asked questions about advertising in student media.
- Know Your Rights: First Amendment and Censorship (8/18/2014) -
Some of the most frequently asked questions about students' right to a free press.
These can help spark classroom discussion, and demonstrate how legal principles are at work every day in the newsroom and classrooms.
- Learning from the headlines: Gizmodo and illegally obtained material (8/19/2014) -
After an Apple engineer accidentally left a yet-to-be-released iPhone 4G in a restaurant, Gizmodo.com paid $5,000 for the phone so that it could review and write about it. Police got a search warrant and raided the Gizmodo blogger's home, but Gizmodo challenged the seizure. This lesson explores the reporter's privilege and the legal issues involved with publishing illegally obtained information.
- Learning from the headlines: Reporter’s privilege and shield laws (8/19/2014) -
In 2009, a San Francisco student journalist was taking photos for a journalism class project when a fatal shooting broke out nearby. The student journalist used California's reporter shield law to challenge a police search warrant and the seizing of his cameras and other equipment. This lesson plan explores state shield laws and how they apply to student journalists.
- Learning from the headlines: Shepard Fairey, The Associated Press and fair use doctrine (8/19/2014) -
A photograph of Barack Obama taken by an Associated Press photographer is at the center of a copyright dispute between the AP and an artist who created an iconic poster of Obama based off of the photograph. This lesson plan explores issues involving copyright and fair use.
- Learning from the headlines: World Press Freedom Day 2011 (8/19/2014) -
In April 2011, the Student Press Law Center joined 39 of America's leading journalism and free-speech groups in calling attention to the lack of press freedoms in American schools and colleges in light of the annual World Press Freedom Day. This lesson explores the importance of press freedom in the U.S. and around the world.
- Learning from the headlines: Video games and the Supreme Court (8/18/2014) -
At the end of its 2011 term, the U.S. Supreme Court declared unconstitutional a California law that made it a crime to sell kids under 18 video games that contain extreme, realistic violence against human figures. The lesson explores the Court's decision and its implications on free speech for students.
The PowerPoint presentations below cover some of the most common media law issues faced by high school student journalists. Produced by the Student Press Law Center’s legal staff, these introductory level presentations are intended for classroom or workshop use and provide students (and their advisers) with an easy-to-follow, practical guide for understanding and avoiding the problems most often confronted by high school student media. Each is accompanied by a set of teachers’ presentation notes in PDF-format that includes slide images and a presentation script.
- Media Law Presentation: Press Freedom (8/20/2014) -
This presentation describes the free press rights of high school journalists afforded through court decisions and state laws.
- Media Law Presentation: Freedom of Information Law (8/20/2014) -
This presentation explains what laws are available and how they can help you obtain access to records and meetings of interest to high school student media.
- Media Law Presentation: Press Law (8/20/2014) -
This presentation provides a brief overview of the "Big 6" legal issues confronted by high school student journalists: censorship, libel, invasion of privacy, copyright, access to records and meetings, reporter's privilege.
- Media Law Presentation: Libel Law (8/20/2014) -
This presentation provides student journalists with a straightforward guide to understanding and identifying libel.
- Media Law Presentation: Reporter’s Privilege (8/19/2014) - This presentation will introduce student journalists to one of the hottest and most controversial topics of the day: the reporter's privilege.
- Media Law Presentation: Copyright Law (8/19/2014) - This presentation begins with a brief introduction of the history and goals behind copyright. It then explores some of the basics of copyright, including questions about copyright eligibility, copyright duration, registration, obtaining copyright permissions and its distinction from other intellectual property rights (patent, trademark) and plagiarism. Finally, considerable time is spent discussing copyright law’s Fair… Continue reading Media Law Presentation: Copyright Law
- Media Law Presentation: Invasion of Privacy (8/19/2014) - This presentation helps student journalists understand and identify where the legal lines are drawn when gathering and publishing information that might be considered private. It examines each of the four different types of invasion of privacy and includes a number of true-to-life examples that will help reporters and photographers steer clear of the most common… Continue reading Media Law Presentation: Invasion of Privacy