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Tuesday, 10 August 2010

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In Hong Kong, during the WorldCup 2010, of which the exclusive broadcast rights went to the paid channel Cable TV, free channels like the TVB resorted to computer animation in reconstructing the goals, not unlike what the Plymouth Herald in the UK had done. And curiously viewers were happy about it.

For Cable TV haters like me, who will never commit to a subscription with them again, we got what we paid for. Of course, we could always watch online channels from Mainland China until they blocked them ...

"Another paper, the Sun, ran a game report without once mentioning the names of the offending team or any of its players."

Reminds me of the George Carlin sportscaster bit: "Here's a partial score: Notre Dame 6."

As they say - "Never get in an argument with someone who buys ink by the barrel."

(Although this notion is no doubt doomed by the internet.)

Southampton have been struggling of late financially... but this decision is rather strange, given in a country like the UK where game coverage in the mainstream media is so important to marketing a club.

I think we'll find that the ban will last one game...

Pak

It's all about the money, sadly.

Cartoons though will do just as well, given the circumstance!

The media should simply stop reporting all sports, shows, or other events where photographers are either not admitted or subjected to undue restrictions.

I bet this nonsense would stop soon enough.

Ralf

The British Journal of Photography reports on its website that the agency offered the contract to supply pictures has refused it. Here's the link:

http://www.bjp-online.com/british-journal-of-photography/news/1727045/football-club-bans-press-photographers

Is this a new development in the UK? I understand the rules are similar in the US for MLB, NBA, NHL and NFL. Probably most of the rest of the western world.

The focus is off and the bokeh harsh ;)

Sounds like the various companies that ban google/yahoo/etc from crawling their sites.

They often relent once they realize how much their traffic/revenue drops.

Ban the photographers and their coverage drops, their coverage drops their attendance drops, their attendance drops, their revenue drops.

Ahem - I think you're misunderstanding. Most major leagues only allow accredited photographers, but they accredit many many photographers from many publications/internet sites. In this case, the soccer (football) team in question contracted with a single entity (their own photog, essentially), and expected to sell their output to all of the other publications and internet sites for extra money.

I regret to say that this is Southampton FC, my home football club and that the photo agency 'given' these rights has done the honourable thing by refusing to be a part of this ill concieved debacle. There is now a backlash by fans and supporters against the clubs finacial management.

Living as I do surrounded by cradle-to-grave Saints fans, and feeling their pain at their club's fall from grace, I can only gape in amazement at this latest in a series of stupid decisions by the club management. The idea that photos of League One matches (for non-Brits: effectively a third level league) are an asset to be tightly "leveraged" for financial gain is laughable.

Mike

Cash grab? How much do they sell the photos for? Is there really that much money at stake?

The photographers got thrown out? Excellent, I thought those chaps would never leave.

Now, if they can get rid of those jokers who keep kicking that ball around, the noisy blokes trying to sell geegaws to the unruly crowd in the stands...and the unruly crowd in the stands, we'll have a nice quiet park in which one may be able to hear oneself think.

We could plant flowers and attract butterflies and birds..and invite photographers in to make photographs where the loudest sound heard would be the shutter on a Nikon DSLR.

Good grief. I can't even imagine how that suggestion lived through the staff meeting. An absolute classic. Thanks for sharing this one, Mike.

Dear Ahem,

I don´t know where you´re from, but as far as I know, in three countries that very thing is outright illegal: Spain, France and Netherlands.

Law says [as far as I know and understood, and happened] that if an event is considered of general public interest, there are no exclusivity rights regarding the broadcast system or company.

Hence, on the very last World Football Cup, all the Spanish broadcasting companies could broadcast it. The owner of the rights could have the signal in premiere, having the rest of the broadcasters the right to do so with a 10 second delay [which causes quite bizarre situations, actually].

At least with soccer, you don't need many cartoons to show all the scores...

It makes me proud to be British. People are getting thoroughly jacked off with this exploitative nonsense. UK photographers are becoming quite politically active these days, and that's a good thing IMO.

It's far easier to lose rights than it is to gain them and photographers' rights are more under threat now than at any time I can remember, and on many spurious pretexts.

The drawing could be straight out of Roy of The Rovers (as all Tiger readers will recall) and is equally fictitious in my view as it appears to show Plymouth scoring a goal.

Somebody likes to play ball. Let's see who blinks first.

As Southampton are a team with a great future behind them, and a fan base outnumbered by the lads on the pitch (field), I shouldn't think that this represents the beginning of the end. More a telling sign of how far the club have fallen.

"Probably the rest of the western world" - Ahem

I hope you're not suggesting that what happens in the US defines some paradigm followed by the rest of us in the "western world"

I have been looking through your blog, I love your projects they are so cute and the fabric projects are awesome.Thanks for sharing

Dear Inãki

[Law says ... that if an event is considered of general public interest, there are no exclusivity rights regarding the broadcast system or company.]

To a certain extent, it's the same here in Hong Kong, but only the opening match, two semifinals and the final were opened to free channels.

[The owner of the rights could have the signal in premiere, having the rest of the broadcasters the right to do so with a 10 second delay]

In here about a third of the 64 matches got away with the online embargo, mostly from Chinese and some European real time webcasts. Speak of "real time", no, most webcasts were delayed, from some 10 sec to 1 min when compared with the "real" real time signal. That brought a little chaos too, when I heard dear neighbours chanting for goals while I saw nothing, and when the signal reached me, they were already cursing for something else ... and it went without saying, given the different delays and the physical proximity among our neighbourhood, this was always quite a phenomenon, esp in the middle of the night ...

... I heard me talking to myself, technical issues like net latency alone could not have explained this. Now I know why. So much for the balance between commercial rights benefits and public interest.

The high school sports association in Illinois, where I live, tried to do something similar a year or three ago for state finals. It didn't go over too big, and after a semi-demi-hemi media boycott, they gave it up.

What's really ironic is that the "official" photography company (which is based in WI) has about ten million dollars worth of IRPA violations on their site at any given time, yet covers it with warnings about how if you steal their pictures you're going to Hell with a lengthy stopover in prison.

"Most major leagues only allow accredited photographers, but they accredit many many photographers from many publications/internet sites. In this case, the soccer (football) team in question contracted with a single entity (their own photog, essentially), and expected to sell their output to all of the other publications and internet sites for extra money.

So they're fine with restricting access, as long as they restrict the access to the people that know the secret handshake. What they did was wrong because they cut out the guild/middleman, those bastards.

If you're going to let people ruthlessly monetize IP, you have to assume that they will ruthlessly monetize IP. I'm fully convinced that if/when team owners figure out how to build neuralyzers they will then stake a claim to their ownership of the memories of the game/event, and their right to wipe it from your mind (...of course, for a mere $200 you can upgrade your ticket to the "Lasting Memories" package that include a small beer (domestic only), a hotdog, and the right to remember the game/event).

There's another issue here, and that's the gray area between news and entertainment. To my mind, sports is mostly entertainment though I guess it's possible to make an argument that there exists some news and public affairs in it too. If it's entertainment, then it's easy to see why organizing bodies want to limit access. To control the marketing of the entertainment, they need to control the message. If it's news, then trying to control the message isn't so well regarded, unless you're the party in power or the agency with authority, who are always desperate to control the message.

Gets worse every day. Reading an article on music photography in "Shutterbug" magazine, in which Paul Natkin notes how tightly restricted concert photography is these days. Allowed to shoot only for the first three songs, and from the soundboard only.

He noted that this makes for sterile and uncreative photography. But I guess it's all about "image control" and squeezing maximum profit these days. But he points out how musicians, et al are shooting themselves in the foot by such tight control--given the low quality of images resulting therefrom.

Interesting to note that some of the most iconic shots in rock and roll come from a time when access wasn't so strictly controlled....

Still remember my surprise at the scenes in "Gimme Shelter" where ANYBODY WHO WANTED TO came up to the front of the stage and shot photos of the Rolling Stones. Never happen now...

So they're fine with restricting access, as long as they restrict the access to the people that know the secret handshake. What they did was wrong because they cut out the guild/middleman, those bastards.

Ray - The big difference you're missing in that analogy, is also who controls the content and what gets published. The access in most leagues (US anyway) is essentially only restricted for logistical reasons. They give out tons of credentials to tons of legitimate organizations - even some very small ones. So there's no huge fees, and no control over what gets photographed or published. That changes drastically if the team not only licenses a single entity, but also pays them and owns their output.

You should live and work in Melbourne, Australia.
The AFL which is the governing body of aussie football restricts members of the public taking lenses longer than 200mm into any ground!
Given the size of the ground (biggest in the world for playing fields), can you imaging what useless sorts of shots can be made with only a 200mm?
The same applies at the Aus Open Tennis comp.

The big difference you're missing in that analogy, is also who controls the content and what gets published.

And Dave, what you're missing is what reason, what incentive, does a private entity, organizing and holding an event on private property, have to share and allow others to profit from their content? At the end of the day, to the club, the game is nothing but that, content. The photographers were never anything but free PR. It made sense, once upon a time, to effectively outsource some of the PR materials creation to content aggregaters/distributors (for free, no less), in exchange for not having total control of the PR content. But now with cost of content distribution so low, and the waning power and influence of aggregaters/distributors, it only makes sense to try and strike a better deal or create the PR content directly.

And any organization that has the ability to cherry pick who gets access does, in fact, exercise de facto control over content. Access that isn't granted via random chance creates an incentive to not do something that will get you kicked out of the pool of potentials ("legitimate organizations"). That equals control. The only real difference here is the potential extent of the control and the candor about the club's motives.

We've created a world where every thought, every glimpse, every idea is content, IP to be guarded with the ferocity of the Crown Jewels. So I'm not sure why photographers have some sort of an automatic right to profit from someone else's content.

\0/

Goal!!

(My attempt at illustrating a goal in soccer)

"...what reason, what incentive, does a private entity, organizing and holding an event on private property, have to share and allow others to profit from their content?"

As you mentioned, it's primarily PR and money. For better or for worse, sports teams are associated with a city and dependent on fans. They become a very public entity. Allowing lots and lots of news coverage of the team creates and maintains fans. It also creates an openess where people and organizations are free to criticize and comment on the team.

And it also makes sports very news-worthy, so people have come to expect very open access for the media to a large extent. This has created a situation where the teams don't really control their content, regardless of the credentials. (Sure they could refuse to let someone into the stadium as punishment for negative press, but they don't - the PR hit would hurt too much. Many negative on-field events have been very well covered by the media, with little impact.)

I'm not arguing that the team has any obligation, or that photographers have any inalienable right to be there (although many stadiums were built with public money, so some may argue that). I'm simply saying that the current environment (in the US at least) leads to some very open even-handed coverage, and that it's good for everyone involved. A team trying to just take its own pictures and sell them to everyone else creates less honesty, and pure PR - as opposed to the more free reign, honest stuff we get now.

I'm simply saying that things are generally better (for the fans and public) when you let everyone take pictures of an event and decide what to publish, rather than only allowing to be published what the event owners want.

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