WIAA allows newspapers to sell photos of sports events

After several months of occasionally hostile negotiation, the Associated Press is reporting that the WIAA is allowing newspapers to sell printed photographs taken by staff members at state tournament games. Although this announcement heads off a potential court battle between the WIAA and state newspapers, complications remain regarding newspapers that are interested in generating video during WIAA events. Here is a report from the AP.

STEVENS POINT, Wis (AP) — The state’s high school athletic association has agreed to let newspapers sell photographs from state tournaments to parents, grandparents and others, momentarily resolving a dispute with local media.

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association barred newspapers earlier this year from selling tournament photos after it signed contracts with companies giving those businesses exclusive photographic and video rights to state championship events.

That angered state newspapers, which have a long history of selling for a nominal fee photos — and more recently videos — of the events, mostly to athletes’ parents, friends and relatives.

The sticking point revolved around photographs of championship events displayed on the newspapers’ Web sites, but not published in their newspapers.

With tension growing between the WIAA and state media, WIAA executive director Douglas Chickering announced Thursday that his group would look the other way and allow newspapers to continue selling photographs they take at WIAA events.

“This is not going to be an issue with us, for the time being,” Chickering told journalists gathered for the WIAA’s Media Day. “If you feel you want to sell (photos) … and (readers) are willing to pay the price, go to it. We’re not an obstacle to that for the time being. We aren’t looking for ill will.”

However, the WIAA’s official policy will still restrict use of the photos to publication in newspapers and other “non-commercial” purposes, and Chickering said the WIAA could revisit the issue down the road.

Earlier this year, the WIAA threatened to deny credentials to state tournaments to newspapers that sold photographs from the events. Many newspapers sold the photos anyway, and the issue seemed headed to court until Thursday’s announcement.

“We’re pleased the WIAA has taken this step,” said John Dye, Wisconsin Associated Press Editors Association president and Green Bay Press-Gazette executive editor. “The real winners are our print and online readers, as well as the student athletes and their families.”

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