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Determine content ownership ahead of time: FSW


freespeechweek_logo_mainRecent discussions on the Journalism Education Association listserv focused on who owns the copyright of content produced for student media

This group of  links and other material should offer informed choices to advisers and students

Who owns the copyright to work created by a student journalist? It’s a fascinating, important — and potentially complicated question. It’s also one that can and should be addressed early on by every student media staff.  Check the link for more.

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?

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. Foundations_main

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. Check the link for more.

Copyright law can be both the friend and foe of the student media. While the law protects student journalists against the unauthorized use of their stories, drawings or photographs, it also limits their ability to reproduce the works of others. The following guide, which explains the basics of copyright law, should provide student journalists with most of what they need to know to both safeguard and exercise their rights. Check the link for more.

Scroll down to get  to ownership section

In an email to JEA’s listserv, Student Press Law Center executive director Frank Limonite stressed several points:
• Copyright law is simple. It starts with the proposition that the person who creates a piece owns it. Only two legally recognized ways to lose that – sign it over or receive a salary in exchange for it.
• There is a “persistent myth”  that using the school’s equipment transforms your work into the school’s property. It’s like a school telling a parent to return a picture the child took home that was made with school crayons.
• “What the school has (in the eyes of the law) is a ‘license’ to use the work that is submitted for the publication — and once incorporated into the publication, it then becomes a part of a collective work, over which the individual contributors no longer have exclusive ownership. So the school is free to republish the work in ways that are a direct extension of the original — for instance, re-using a sports photo in a ‘year in review’ of the best touchdown catches of the season — within the terms of that ‘implied license.’ But what the school does not have is ownership.


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