Yearbooks, the Law and You
By Trevor Ivan
Producing a yearbook can lead to plenty of legal questions. This unit helps you understand them all – First Amendment rights, libel, invasion of privacy, copyright and more.
Because of a miscommunication on your yearbook staff, no one took photos during the state soccer championship game. The photo editor decides to simply download photos from one team member’s personal Facebook page to use on the spread about the soccer team’s amazing season.
Another staff member thinks it would be humorous to use a picture of the school gym teacher without her knowledge when creating an ad promoting the new local donut shop.
When you produce a yearbook, legal conundrums have a way of finding you. As a form of speech and expression, yearbook content enjoys wide First Amendment protection. However, balanced against that right to expression, the yearbook must respect the rights of those whose lives and experiences are displayed upon its pages.
Your finished product (either in print or digital form) is a published work subject to applicable laws and standards that professionals must follow. While most staff members may not be old enough to vote, they are still legally responsible for what they print. This is why it’s essential for yearbook staffs to understand the basics of the law as a road map to guide their decisions.
So, a little prevention goes a long way. Knowing and respecting basic aspects of the law will enable you to make wise decisions. This unit will help you:
- Understand your First Amendment rights and how they apply to your publication
- Know how to avoid libel, malice and invasion of privacy
- Understand copyright and trademarks so you don’t misuse the work of others
- Learn how the law applies to advertising