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Ownership of student content

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sprclogoFoundations_mainEthical guidelines
Absent a written agreement indicating otherwise, student journalists own the copyright to the works they create. Each media outlet should ensure it has clear policies in place for staff members and the publication that spell out ownership and the right of the publication to use student work.

Staff manual process
Several options exist for written policy statements. The student media outlet can allow students to retain ownership of the works they create while giving the publication a license to use them. The downside of this option is that the publication may not be able to prevent others from using the work without permission because it is not technically an owner of the work. The second option assigns the copyright ownership of the students’ works to the publication, which can defend those ownership rights.

Suggestions
• Student editors should discuss which option makes them feel the most comfortable.
• Student media staffs should use suggested guidelines from the Journalism Education Association Scholastic Press Rights Committee and the Student Press Law Center to craft an ownership statement suitable for their program.

Resources
Who Owns Student Content?, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee
Back to School: Who Owns What?, Student Press Law Center
Contribution to Collective Work, U.S. Copyright Office

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