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?

Ask SPLC: Can I use an illegally recorded conversation?

Q: If a source provides me with an illegally recorded conversation or other piece of documentation illegally obtained, can I use the information in my article? A: It depends. If you and your media outlet did not ask your source to obtain the material illegally or otherwise take part in its acquisition, and if you received the… Continue reading Ask SPLC: Can I use an illegally recorded conversation?

Ask SPLC: Can I use a photo I pulled from Google if I Photoshop it?

Q: Can we take pictures of celebrities from the internet and Photoshop students into them without violating copyright law? A: Probably not, unless you have a license from the photographer to alter the image, or if the image is in the public domain. Using Photoshop (or any other program) to change an image does not excuse… Continue reading Ask SPLC: Can I use a photo I pulled from Google if I Photoshop it?

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?

Ask SPLC: Parental permissions for photos of minors?

Q: Can we publish students' names and photos online without parental permission, even when the students are minors? A: Yes. Many people mistakenly believe that parental consent is needed in order to identify students in a publication-- be it print or online-- but no federal privacy law requires such consent. If your school tells you there… Continue reading Ask SPLC: Parental permissions for photos of minors?