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New Online Resource to Help Students with First Amendment Questions

Posted on 3/18/2019

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In this age of social media, students are coming face-to-face with a whole host of issues related to free speech, privacy, copyright, and freedom of expression. In response to the questions that students have, the Michigan State University College of Law, with the generous financial support of Michigan attorney Richard McLellan, has created the McLellan Online Free Speech Library to provide some guidance on these thorny topics.

The McLellan Online Free Speech Library is an outgrowth of the work of the MSU First Amendment Law Clinic, the only clinical legal program in the country dedicated to protecting student speech and student press rights. The starting point for the Library is the questions submitted directly by students across the country. Currently, the Library is organized by the following topics:

  • Copyright and fair use
  • FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) and OMA (Open Meetings Act)
  • Libel
  • Offensive speech
  • Privacy
  • Social media
  • Student expression
  • Student press
  • Student protests

Within each topic, the user can see the answers to questions submitted by students, read related articles, and take a quiz on the topic. There are also additional resources that a user can explore that cover many of the topics listed.

The Library continues to receive inquiries from students as social media use evolves and questions arise. Recent questions posted to the website include:

  • Can a yearbook get in trouble for printing famous quotes and lyrics in its advertisement pages?
  • Does reporting on a student's suicide violate privacy?
  • Can a school enforce lockdown procedures to prevent a student protest?

The McLellan Online Free Speech Library can be a valuable resource to share with students for help on understanding a wide range of issues that relate to the First Amendment and the ability to express oneself in our technological, social media-driven world.

Website: The McLellan Online Free Speech Library

Article: In trouble at school for social media posts? Now you can get legal help online

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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN180031 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.