Upload & Sell: On
Even if it was an "inside job" (I'm inclined to suspect as well) by the yearbook staff (or any staff) ... it is the RESPONSIBILITY of the publisher/editor to ENSURE that they have the RIGHTS to use the images.
I sense that the kids somehow either didn't care, didn't know ... OR ... errantly misunderstood the what constitutes "fair use" ... yet, ignorance of the law is no excuse.
I'd be wanting to find out the truth behind this one ... not because I'm TICKED OFF ... but because I recognize how wrong it is and that there VERY MUCH needs to be a TEACHING POINT made here. Given that it is the teacher/school's oversight that is to be providing TEACHING/PROPER GUIDANCE to the student (i.e. learning about publishing etc.) ... this is one that needs to be FULLY DISCERNED, and THEN FULLY DETERMINED what the proper retribution would/should be.
I'd likely not be looking for monetary compensation on this one ... BUT, I WOULD be wanting compensation in the form of ENSURING that the players involved (school/teacher/staff/publisher) ALL acknowledged in writing the impropriety of what ILLEGALLY occurred and what the proper original action should be ... and what the potential RECOURSE could be. Additionally, I would want the offenders to "apprentice" under me as community service to lug my gear around and spend their time getting to & from shoots, etc. For them, this is fun ... but they need to be taught it is business that they are messing with.
However, given that they removed watermarks ... this means that they INTENTIONALLY worked to avoid propriety. They probably don't want me to be the judge on this one, but there needs to be ACCOUNTABILITY & RECOMPENSE for their actions. Boo-Hoo that students don't have money ... there are OTHER FORMS of recompense, money is but one of them. I can only imagine what Ed Greenburg or Carolyn Wright would say on this one. I'd give them a call ... they might even offer some PRO BONO work on this given the impact it presents for future of the industry aspects.
THIS IS A TREMENDOUS TEACHING / LEARNING OPPORTUNITY that I would want to drive home. People will think I'm making a "mountain out of a mole hill" ... but I would EXPECT the school to get behind me on teaching the kids right from wrong and the legal implications involved with such. If the school doesn't want to use this as a TEACHING POINT, then I'd sue the school for actual damages @ fair market value (I don't want the stinkin' money) to get them to realize that this IS a legal issue for which THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE.
There is also a STRONG POINT for you and the students to be learned here as well. There is a MAJOR distinction between unregistered and registered images. For unregistered images, the claim is limited to actual damages (i.e. money lost/not received) ... whereas for registered images, the claim may include attorneys fee's and punitive (punishment) awards additionally (up to $150,000 iirc).
ALL THE PLAYERS (school/teacher/students/publisher) need to be made to realize that the school/publisher could be responsible for VERY LARGE (punitive) amount for taking registered images. I'm rather certain that the publisher already knows this, but simply assumed that the images had been obtained with appropriate rights for publication. Move down the "food chain" to the school/teacher/students and the story likely changes progressively.
If you are going to be in the industry ... and teaching how to be in the industry ... you SHOULD be teaching the legals of the industry. This one needs to be driven home as a teaching point ... not simply an appeasement so that everyone is "okay" with what happened and a couple dollars be given for restitution. The proper education of these young people's wrongful actions (which will reverberate) is paramount.
Like I said ... money isn't the issue for me on this one. BUT, if the threat of money is what it takes to get people to do the right thing ... TEACH THESE KIDS ... then so be it. There is a lesson here that needs to be driven home, and anything short of that ... IMO ... is yet another kind of crime.