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Yearbook photo manipulations back in the news

Every year, it seems yearbook editorial staffs and advisors make the news with decisions involving school photography. This year was no different. A Florida high school offered refunds of a $100 yearbook because the school edited photos of about 80 female students, according to Insider. Bertram Trail High School edited the photos for modesty by covering up the exposed skin on some photos, according to the local NBC affiliate, News4Jax.

After parents and students complained of the photo edits, the St. Johns County School District said it would issue refunds, provided the yearbook is returned. In a statement to News4Jax, the district said the school had in the past followed a procedure allowing the school to keep students who violated dress codes and codes of conduct out of the yearbook. "So the digital alterations were a solution to make sure all students were included in the yearbook," the statement said.

From a school photography viewpoint, this raises again the issue of copyright. By editing the photos in such a manner, the yearbook editors violate the copyright of the photographer. From the school photographer’s viewpoint, how should this be handled?

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Richard Johnson
Jun 28, 2021

My short comment, directed at the question of copyright, is: Is it that important to you that your images are used exactly as you photographed them, when used in a high school yearbook?

If so, then shouldn't the photographer be following the dress/modesty code of the school? What this article doesn't clarify, is if the modifications were made on underclass (school portraits) or Seniors (studio), and if the photographer was under contract with the district/school, or was open market. Having a contract implies a "work for hire" agreement which gives the school some rights. With open market images submitted for yearbook, the photographer should be following any guidelines published by the school, and the school should not accept any image…

Abe Orlick
Jul 08, 2021
Replying to

Well stated!!!

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