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Who owns student content?

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Students were back wherever their classes meet after the first of January when questions began on JEA’s listserv about who owned publication content, specifically images, in student media.

Responses came, saying the school did; the publication did and student journalists did. Reasons and answers varied widely.

JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Committee several years ago, as well as the Student Press Law Center, published insight and options to guide decisions ownership decisions.

The SPRC urges advisers, students and community members to examine the information, reasons that guide their decision making process and impact of decisions to create successful student media.

Links to both sets of guides are below.

SPLC guidance:

Protecting your yearbook: How to register the copyright to prevent privacy

SPRC/JEA guidance:

Determine who owns student work before publication starts
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

Deciding who owns content of student media should be an important decision for all platforms and programs. Contained within that decision are implications for the forum concept, how content can be used and by whom, and how staffs handle takedown demands.

Additional resourcesWho owns student-produced content?  Scholastic Press Rights Committee

Ownership of student content

Back to School: Who Owns What?, Student Press Law Center

Contribution to Collective Work, U.S. Copyright Office

•Related:
Takedown requests: When the right to preserve history conflicts with the desire to forget it As more student newspapers move to digital platforms, editors and advisers are facing a new and insidious form of post-publication censorship: takedown requests.

Who owns student produced content?

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