Ask SPLC: What can private school students do when they’re censored?

Q: Do private school students have any recourse when their free speech rights are stripped? A: Options for fighting private school censorship can vary significantly from school to school. As you are probably already aware, you don't have First Amendment protection from censorship in private schools, so you have to look elsewhere. Reminder: The First Amendment only protects… Continue reading Ask SPLC: What can private school students do when they’re censored?

Ask SPLC: Can we use screenshots from a public Instagram account?

Q: We compiled a collage of screenshots from student’s instagram photos. The accounts are public.  Is it legal for us to publish that collage? A: Assuming the photos are individually recognizable — that is, the subjects can be seen, for example, and you’ve used enough of the original photo that people would recognize it as the individual work… Continue reading Ask SPLC: Can we use screenshots from a public Instagram account?

Ask SPLC: Can we use the title of a show as a headline or yearbook theme?

Q. We want to use soap opera titles, such as "Days of our Lives," to head our yearbook sections. Any problems? A.  This question has many popular variants. For example, can we use book titles (Dr. Seuss's "Oh, the Places You'll Go" is a perennial favorite) as our yearbook theme? Can we use movie titles… Continue reading Ask SPLC: Can we use the title of a show as a headline or yearbook theme?

Ask SPLC: Can I use copyrighted material as long as I credit the source?

Q.  Can I use copyrighted material (online or otherwise) as long as I properly credit the source? A.  Simply giving credit (for example, "Photo courtesy of The New York Times") usually isn't enough. Unless you can make a fair use argument or unless you're certain that material is not protected by copyright (for example, works… Continue reading Ask SPLC: Can I use copyrighted material as long as I credit the source?

Ask SPLC: Is my newspaper responsible for comments on our posts?

Q: Is my student 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… Continue reading Ask SPLC: Is my newspaper responsible for comments on our posts?

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: Am I obligated to take down an embarrassing story if the subject of it asks?

A: It depends. First of all, it is a good idea for your publication to have a policy on takedown demands or retractions. Many publications have a policy that is some variation of stating that there will be no takedowns or retractions unless something in the article is false.  It is important to keep in mind… Continue reading Ask SPLC: Am I obligated to take down an embarrassing story if the subject of it asks?

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?