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Do we have to remove police reports from our Web site?

By Student Press Law Center staff

Published: Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Updated: Tuesday, July 27, 2010

About the SPLC

The Student Press Law Center is an advocate for student free-press rights and provides information, advice and legal assistance at no charge to students and the educators who work with them. Ask questions, get help and learn more about their site SPLC.org, or click the links above or below. Full story

A former student has his name listed in our police/crime report from six years ago. He's threatening legal action if we don't remove it. Do we have to remove his name?

 

No. Unless the information on your site is inaccurate or misleading, you are under no obligation to remove or alter it.
 
News archives can provide an important historical record and research tool, but one whose usefulness is compromised if archived content is changed haphazardly. Some news organizations have agreed to provide "updated" information — clearly marked and dated as such — where the new information is relevant to the original story (such as information that criminal charges were dropped), though you are under no legal obligation to do so. Before the next complaint arrives, editors should put together a consistent editorial policy and establish a formal process for responding to such requests and/or correcting online errors.
 
For more information: Craig Silverman, editor of the Web site RegretTheError.com, has a helpful article that identifies some of the evolving policies and practices of media organizations in responding to online errors.
 
Also check out this Online Journalism Review article.

 

 

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