BASEBALL LEAGUE SEEKS ONLINE PHOTO RESTRICTIONS

By: David Noack

Editors Oppose New Credentialing Agreement


The fight over new press credentials for Major League Baseball
has entered extra innings.

With opening day ceremonies heralding the start of another
season, negotiations continue between the MLB and the Associated
Press Sports Editors (APSE) over a new credentialing agreement
that would place restrictions on the use of newspaper photos and
other content on the Internet.

The agreement, handed out about a month ago during spring
training, would allow MLB and the teams the right to order
published images “at cost” where they could be used in “any other
media” and “without further compensation”; ban the “transmitting
or displaying” of images, video, or audio in any media until the
conclusion of the game, and regulating how news photographs can
be used after a game.

As the talks to iron out an agreement continues, reporters and
photographers will be issued “day passes” which allow them to
cover a specific game. Normally, reporters and photographers who
cover a specific team are given season credentials.

A spokesman for MLB could not be reached for comment on the
credentialing proposal or the status of talks with the sports
writers.

Tim Burke, sports editor of The Palm Beach (Fla.)
Post and president of the APSE, is hopeful that an
agreement can be reached. “ASPE continues to urge all papers not
to sign any credential agreement document. Meanwhile MLB has
agreed to issue day passes to our reporters and photographers,”
said Burke.

ASPE represents about 500 sports editors from newspapers across
the country.

Burke said MLB is “slowly compromising” as both sides work on a
third revision of the original proposal to set in place press
restrictions. “To this point they have not gone far enough for us
to want the document. That is why we are still talking. MLB has
shown a desire to work things out,” said Burke.

The credentialing controversy is part of an effort by MLB, and
other professional sports leagues, to tighten its hold on its
content and how it is distributed. Recently, the league announced
that it had struck a deal with Internet broadcaster RealNetworks,
which would pay Major League Baseball $20 million for the next
three years for rights to broadcast games over the Web. Fans
could listen to games over the Web at a monthly cost of $4.95 if
users agree to subscribe for at least six months.

In an article in Newsday of Long Island, N.Y., Anthony
Marro, the paper’s editor, said that using photographs during the
game constitutes “fair use.” He said Newsday also objected
to a requirement regarding the league’s use of photos it buys
from news organizations. He fears the paper’s photos could end up
being used by its competition.



David Noack dnoack@bestweb.net) is a free-lance writer based in New York.



Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher.

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