Friday, February 08, 2008

Disputes over photography at high-school athletic events continue, even at cheerleading contest

For the past few months, the Illinois High School Association and the Illinois Press Association have battled in court and athletic venues over who has the right to shoot — and then sell — photos of high-school athletic events. That even includes cheerleading competitions, which are just the latest front in the fight -- which has also flared in other states.

At issue is the contract IHSA signed in 2001 with VIP, a Wisconsin-based photography company. The firm gets exclusive rights for sale of photos and agrees to shoot all events — not just football and basketball, but competitions such as bowling and chess, which newspapers are unlikely to cover. IHSA does not get a cut of the photo sales, but no longer has to hire photographers. To protect VIP's exclusivity, IHSA has barred newspaper photographers from events unless they sign a deal saying they won't sell images they capture.

"I don’t think I’ve seen a single issue that has inflamed the passions of my members more than this one has,” David Bennett, executive director of the IPA, told Michael Miner of the Chicago Reader. “Most see it as an example of a quasi-government agency trying to tell them how to run their product. This is unbelievable. Government can’t do this! That’s blatantly unconstitutional. There’s no backing down from this one now. The toothpaste is out of the tube.”

Last Saturday, IHSA barred Carlos Miranda, a photographer from The Pantagraph of Bloomington from the sidelines of the state's cheerleading competition when he refused to promise not to sell reprints. He bought a ticket and shot from the stands instead, and reporter Edith Brady-Lunny wrote an article on the dispute for the paper's Sunday edition. The fight has moved to the statehouse, too. "With the case still in court, late last month state representative Joseph Lyons, a Chicago Democrat, introduced a bill intended to make the IHSA’s position illegal," Miner writes. (Read more)

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