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Copyright to sports photos?
Old 09-09-2006, 08:39 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Can anyone point me to an information source regarding copyright for sports photos?

Obviously if I'm shooting a football game I can't get a model release from everyone on the field. So my question is, what rights do I have to photos I take of the high school football game?
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Re: Copyright to sports photos?
Old 09-09-2006, 09:09 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Titan
Can anyone point me to an information source regarding copyright for sports photos?
Obviously if I'm shooting a football game I can't get a model release from everyone on the field. So my question is, what rights do I have to photos I take of the high school football game?
The general rule is that the photographer has the copyright to any photo he or she takes. If, however, you have entered in to a "work for hire" agreement, then the person or firm hiring the photographer may have the copyright. Having the copyright doesn't mean that you can sell the photograph, however. That may require a release.

Cheers,
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Re: Copyright to sports photos?
Old 09-10-2006, 01:19 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Titan
Can anyone point me to an information source regarding copyright for sports photos?
The BEST source for copyright information, in general, can be found at the Copyright Office's website: www.loc.gov/copyright . For specific information regarding shooting sports events, I've found that Sportsshooter.com ( www.sportsshooter.com ) is a good place to start, though you get just as much off-topic and anecdotal information there as you do, here or on other public internet forums.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Titan
Obviously if I'm shooting a football game I can't get a model release from everyone on the field. So my question is, what rights do I have to photos I take of the high school football game?
You have the right to look at the images, feel proud about the images, make copies to put on your wall, show 'em off to your friends, etc. You could even use them in a portfolio that shows off your work.

You also could sell the images to a newspaper or magazine that covers that sport.

What you don't have the right to do, unless you've got a release from any recognizable person in the image (and they put numbers on the player's jerseys so that they're recognizable) is to commercially exploit the images you make. That means, for example, you don't want to put 'em up on a website and offer them for general sale to people, nor include them in a stock photo offering, or make up posters and hawk 'em on the side of the road, or... well, you get the idea, I'm sure.

Because most high school stadiums I've ever been in do not have a license statement printed on their tickets (just look at the back of any NCAA or NFL football ticket and you'll see what I mean), making the photographs inside their property was legal, but your ability to make money from the pictures is limited to news reporting - just about anything else is not available without a release.

A lot of photogs on sportsshooter say that they do sell to the parents of the players - and for the most part that should be OK, but legally, it's on shaky ground - if you're selling an image where MY kid is included, even in the background, and I find out about it - at the very least, I want a free set of every image that he's in or I'll let you talk with my lawyer -- that''s something that more than one shooter has been faced with. In that case, you might just suck it up and make some copies in return for a release signed by the parent (since the kiddoh is probably under 18 and can't consent, anyway).

That make any sense to you?
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Re: Copyright to sports photos?
Old 09-10-2006, 07:48 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Okay thanks. That was very helpful.
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Re: Copyright to sports photos?
Old 02-10-2007, 02:27 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Speaking as a photojournalist and a photo editor at a daily paper, I would have to ask if you are shooting FOR a publication. If you are then they may well (and probably do) hold the copyright for what you shoot on assignment.

Now, if you are not on assignment for anyone, those photos would belong to you. (There are plenty of proud mamas in the corwd at any game and they own their photos too.)

If you have a press pass and are on the sideline for games, make sure adhere to all of teh rules set down by the governing body of your area. (Here in Texas it is the UIL and they have sections of rules dealing specifically with photography at sporting events.) You can also check with local athletic directors to find out if they have any special requirements.

Hope that helped some.

If you have other questions, feel free to PM me.
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