by Matt Smith, Adviser, Cardinal Columns
Fond du Lac High School
On August 25, the Fond du Lac Board of Education gave the official go-ahead for student publications at Fond du Lac High School to begin the new school year operating under new publication guidelines that scrap last year’s policy of administrative prior review.
The new guidelines are not the end of the journey (the language could be more consistent in designating the paper as a public forum for student expression and would be more protective if it was incorporated more directly into actual school board policy), but they are a huge step forward.
Students will no longer submit their work to the principal for approval prior to publication. They will also have the benefit of the more powerful learning and critical thinking development that comes with taking more responsibility for the quality journalism that they produce. The biggest benefit of all, however, may have come from the mere act of finally getting together all the stakeholders involved to craft the new guidelines.
The fact we got students and teachers and administrators and district staff (and eventually the superintendent and board of education and other community members) talking constructively about the importance and practice of journalism in our school was truly powerful.
With all the attention to Constitution Day and its lessons this week (which are usable any time), you might have missed other points of information:
• Friday, Sept. 19, the SPLC released information about reprinting its articles. For more information, go here.
• The same day Evelyn Lauer posted commentary to Huffington Post on the Neshaminey board suspension of its newspaper editor and adviser.
• An article on the Thinkprogress site about the Neshaminy issue.
• A column by Megan Fromm about the importance of news literacy and a scholastic journalism where students make all final decisions of content and learn from that action.
• A Thinglink visual linking to other essential SPRC works
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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 / email@example.com
John Bowen, Director, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Commission
330.676.3666 / firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Scenario: 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?