Published: Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Updated: Tuesday, July 27, 2010 15:07
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.
We want to add everyone in our school to our e-mail newsletter list. Is this allowed within spam regulations?
As long as the e-mail addresses have been lawfully obtained (for example, not hacked or secretly copied by a student while working in an administrative office, etc.) and your newsletters are primarily informational, rather than commercial, the law should present no problem. The federal CAN-SPAM Act protects people from unwanted commercial solicitations (those primarily promoting a product or service). Even if you carry some ads, that doesn't change the primary purpose of your news product.
Because federal law does limit school officials from disclosing certain student records and information, it is probably best that a student and not a faculty member obtain and add the e-mail addresses to the newsletter database. Also, while not required by the law, you can avoid much grumbling by prominently providing e-mail recipients an opportunity to opt-out of future mailings.