Do the sports leagues need the press, or does the press need the sports leagues? My guess is that, say, 15 years ago, the leagues needed the press, but now, I'm not so sure. I think that the sports fan knows where to go to get in-depth coverage, and it's not a press outlet.
The argument for the rights of the press to report on news that is of a sporting nature are somewhat valid. And, while the leagues have held forth that they are "entertainment", a potentially valid counter is that these entertainers have garnered tax relief and public funding for their stadiums, and anti-trust exemptions for their leagues' negotiations with players.
With all this in mind, a unified front has appeared, blacking-out coverage of one event.
This toehold comes in the form of coverage of the Indian Premier League Cricket Tournament (Agencies pull stumps on cricket, 4/24/08) where AP, Reuters, and Getty have opted to not cover the event. The article reports, in part:
Although the IPL scrapped the most onerous restrictions in its initial accreditation terms, including a ban on newspapers using pictures on their websites and a demand that it be given all photographic copyright, it kept a ban on agencies supplying pictures to standalone specialised websites.This is a broader blackout than what happened back in February of 2006, when the AP canceled their coverage of an LPGA event (PDNOnline: AP Cancels Photo Coverage Of LPGA, 2/22/06), for comparable onerous demands - "The LPGA gets unlimited, perpetual, non-exclusive rights to use any photograph taken at an LPGA event for 'non-commercial promotion' worldwide at no cost"; and "A photographer or news organization must promptly supply the LPGA with any photo or digital file it requests at no cost."
On a more upbeat note, (NPPA: Illinois Press Association, IHSA, Settle Photography Dispute, 4/8/08):
"The Illinois Press Association and the Illinois High School Association announced today they have reached a settlement agreement in a lawsuit filed over IHSA's attempt to control access to high school championship events and the secondary use by newspapers of images from those tournaments."Now, let's see what the next front will be. I suspect though, that if the AP, Reuters, AFP, and Getty all decide - each on their own, of course - to not cover something in the US of a major league, that the body that oversees the sport will bring allegations of an anti-trust nature against them. We won't have to worry about that for the NFL, NBA, NHL, and others, where Getty is obligated to provide coverage, because they are being paid to do so, but what of other leagues and sports?
"It's over. They can't control how we do business. End of story," IPA executive director Dave Bennett said announcing today's agreement. The court settlement is a binding agreement that is not subject to political or administrative changes, and the court where the case was filed will retain the authority to enforce the settlement agreement."
It's remarkable that media outlets haven't been more on the ball on this sooner, but, well, better now, than never, maybe.
Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.