Coronavirus and Schools: Virtual Prom Activities
We received inquiries from a number of tech pool members about convening virtual prom events and potential legal considerations surround such events.
The primary concern with any type of virtual prom event is music licensing. While a senior class can hire a DJ to play commercial music for an in-person prom, copyright law prohibits the live streaming of such music without a proper license as this is considered to be a broadcast and would require a broadcast license. This is true whether the event is open to the general public, or is only open to members of the senior class. If your district would like to hold such an event and wants to livestream music, we suggest contacting one or all of the three main music licensing companies (ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC) to determine if you can acquire a license appropriate for the event you wish to stream. If you are using YouTube to stream the event, you will also want to pre-clear your license so that your stream isn’t shut down for potential copyright infringement.
One school district we spoke with was able to successfully partner with a local radio station to share a few hours of air time to air the “senior prom.” This is a creative solution to utilized an entity with a streaming license and broadcast means to reach the same end.
A related question from one questioner was about the use of a designated hashtag for such an event. While at first blush this can seem like a great idea – we have to keep in mind that any social media user can crash a hashtag at any time for their own nefarious purposes – essentially ruining the hashtag for others. We have found that it is just as effective to provide a website or e-mail address where individual users can send their photos so that school districts of IUs can post the submitted photos to a designated website and/or social media account. As these photos are voluntarily submitted for the purpose of posting on social media, there are no privacy concerns with posting such images.