Posts Tagged "SPLC"

JEA-SPRC, SPLC condemn Neshaminy school district for
punishing newspaper editor, adviser
in ongoing fight over ‘Redskins’ name



The Student Press Law Center and Journalism Education Association Scholastic Press Rights Commission condemned the actions of the Neshaminy School District in Pennsylvania Wednesday, following the District’s retaliatory and illegal actions calculated to punish thePlaywickian student newspaper, its editors and its adviser.

In response to an editorial board decision not to print the word “Redskins” because of its use as a racial slur, the administration handed down a decision this week to pull $1,200 of funding from the publication; to suspend its adviser, Tara Huber, for two days; and to suspend Editor-in-Chief Gillian McGoldrick from the newspaper until the end of September.

It has long been the law of this country that no government official can compel a student to speak or adopt words with which she disagrees. West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943). Imposing discipline for refusing to participate in the use of a racial slur is not only unconstitutional; it is un-American in the extreme.

These actions come at a time when a transparently illegal publications policy remains on the books at the District level, one that also purports to compel the use of certain words and attempts to hijack ownership of student work. These are, at their core, bullying tactics—forcing people to say words, then turn over their property.

Competent educators of good conscience would never resort to bullying tactics to perpetuate any ideology, let alone a racially offensive one.

We encourage the students to explore their legal options and urge the State of Pennsylvania to investigate whether the Neshaminy School Board members should be removed.


Frank LoMonte, Executive Director, Student Press Law Center
703.807.1904 /

John Bowen, Director, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Commission
330.676.3666 /

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Getting your editorial policy
the right way


by Candace Perkins Bowen, MJE

Part 1 of a 2-part blog on teacher plagiarism and copyright issues

Teachers can be the world’s worst thieves without ever meaning to be.

We’ve all done it — sometimes out of panicked need, sometimes out of ignorance, sometimes because we think our classroom is some sort of copyright-free zone.

So just what CAN teachers use that others have created? Just what is fair use in the classroom? What may be legal but not exactly ethical for us to use? This is the first of a two-part series concerning OUR use of others’ creative work.

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Who owns student-produced content?


sprclogoScenario: Student journalists have just completed their first converged media assignments and are just about ready for publication across the various platforms. Several indicate they think their work is good enough to share with other groups.Can they legally or ethically do that with repercussion?

By Mark Goodman

The question of who owns the copyright of work created for scholastic media is complex, but at some point, advisers need to answer that question. The sooner that is decided, the better for all.

One thing for certain, Mark Goodman, former executive director of the Student Press Law Center and current Knight Chair in Scholastic Journalism at Kent State University, said it is almost impossible for a school to claim copyright in the works students create.

“Absent a written assignment of rights signed by both student and parent (if the student is a minor),” Goodman said, “students retain the copyright to works they create.”

That’s not because public schools can’t own copyright, he said, it’s because students are not employees and the works they create are not “works for hire.” The fact they may be getting credit for a class does not change that. 

If I were advising a student publication about dealing with its copyright ownership issues from this point forward, I would say the best tactic is to have every staff member (and a parent/guardian if they are a minor) sign something at the beginning of the year that says they are assigning the copyright in the works they submit to the publication to THAT PUBLICATION, or giving a permanent license to the student publication to use those works.”

In addition, there are real downsides to a school owning the copyright to student works, Goodman said.  For example, if a school owns it, it can control how it is used.  That inherently includes extensive censorship rights.

“If I were advising a student publication about dealing with its copyright ownership issues from this point forward,” Goodman said, “I would say the best tactic is to have every staff member (and a parent/guardian if they are a minor) sign something at the beginning of the year that says they are assigning the copyright in the works they submit to the publication to THAT PUBLICATION, or giving a permanent license to the student publication to use those works.”

He said it is possible for an student publication to own a copyright but that doesn’t make it belong to the school.

“Insert in your publication handbook or policy document a statement that states your student publication staff has authority over the copyrights owned by or licensed to the publication,” Goodman said.  “If someone ever uses your publication’s contents without permission in violation of the copyright, you’ll have clear authority for asking them to stop.”

If student work is already distributed and others use it without permission, Goodman said he would recommend advisers and students act as if the publication itself owns the copyright, whether there is written documentation or not.  A letter to the infringer requesting they take the material down immediately would be appropriate.

Goodman developed a model statement of who owns student works.

Goodman also said the SPLC’s Mike Hiestand wrote an excellent piece on copyright ownership on the SPLC blog .

For additional ownership resources:

• Now that it’s online… is it still mine
• The editors’ checklist (se section of copyright and ownership of work)
• Your questions answered: Ownership of content
• Model yearbook copyright warning
• SPLC model yearbook staff member license
• Prince George’s considers copyright policy that takes ownership of students’ work
• Maryland advisers react to school district’s proposal to control copyright of student work
• Protecting your yearbook: How to register the copyright to prevent piracy
• Registering your yearbook’s copyright (directions)
• Reddit’s press guidelines: Get permission from Reddditors before using their content in a ist
• Handle your yearbook copyright issues before you find the book for sale online
• Principals, advisers and students face misconceptions about who ‘owns’ student work
• Back to school checklist: who owns what?



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Put Up recommendations


Developing a Put Up Policy
Sometimes the best way to think about a Takedown Policy is to devise a system of proactive steps to avoid needing to take information down. Here are 10 steps to take before publishing:
• Independently confirm information to be used for accuracy, context, perspective, truth and coherence
• Determine whether sources used are credible and representative of diverse and knowledgeable viewpoints
• Clearly attribute all information as needed for clarity and authority
• Avoid anonymous sources except in situations where they are the best source and identities need protection
• Determine whether sources used have conflicts of interest
• Ensure your information has gone through a vetting process with editors
• If using teens or young people as sources, do so with an understanding of minimizing harm as well as publishing truthful and contextual information
• If using social media sources, be sure information is attributed, accurate, in context and used legally and ethically
• Train and background reporters in legal and ethical issues
• If using crowd generated content, clearly indicate the source and ensure its credibility
• Be skeptical of any information you cannot verify

See more for the complete package:
Evaluating legal demands
Evaluating ethical choices
Decision models
Handling online comments
Takedown demands?

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Information of how colleges
restrict athletes’ social media use available
year-round for localization


Even though Sunshine Week 2014 has passed, you can still obtain information about how colleges regulate athletes’ speech using social media and whether colleges would release the information when asked.

This information is interesting and important on its own, but can also be localized for coverage in scholastic media.

The resources are available here and here.

The SPLC has licensed these pieces using a Creative Commons license to encourage republication.

Information in the packages was researched by students at the Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland and developed into the finished product by SPLC Publications Fellow Sara Gregory and journalism intern Rex Santus of Kent State University.

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