Media take back photo rights from IHSA | Bleader

Media take back photo rights from IHSA

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The Illinois High School Association has promised to stop pushing around press photographers who want to cover major state competitions. The IHSA was limiting the access of photographers whose papers put pictures up online and sold them; it wanted to protect the interests of Visual Image Photography, a Wisconsin-based firm under contract with the IHSA to shoot all state finals--the big ones like football and the little ones like chess and debate that the papers have no interest in anyway. Retailing those pictures to a market led by proud parents has been how  VIP makes its money.

I wrote about the dispute a couple of months ago. As you'll see, the IHSA's position wasn't totally unreasonable; but it was hopeless and possibly unconstitutional. It alienated pretty much every newspaper in Illinois, and Representative Joseph Lyons, a Chicago Democrat, introduced a bill in January that would have made the IHSA's position illegal. That bill will now be withdrawn.

Here's a comment from the Illinois Press Association, whose suit against the IHSA led to the April 7 settlement. Here's the settlement itself. And here's the joint statement of the defeated IHSA and victorious IPA. True to form, this statement tries to make capitulation sound like a win-win occasion. And so, one of "four key points" in the agreement is that "the IHSA retains the right to hire an official photographer that will not have preferential access to events except for training, promotional and educational purposes." In other words, if VIP doesn't mind all the competition, it can go on taking pictures.

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