Newspapers, Wisconsin College Sports Group Spar Over Coverage

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Wisconsin’s newspapers and the WIAA are at odds over photographic and video rights to state championship events.

Newspaper representatives say their photographers and some videographers have the right to photograph and film events for use in newspapers and online sites and sell photographs or videos taken at the championship events as they have in previous years.

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association — a private organization that oversees high school sports in the state — disagrees, having sold exclusive photographic and video rights to the championship events to two companies. The WIAA says newspapers may shoot photos and videos for editorial use, but not commercial use.

“The issue for Wisconsin newspapers is what they perceive to be inappropriate restrictions on the ability of newspapers to provide sports reports to the public,” said Peter Fox, the executive director of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.

“Newspapers across the state have been selling photographs for decades. These types of things have been extremely popular with subscribers.”

WIAA spokesman Todd Clark said the companies granted exclusivity, not the newspapers, should be allowed to profit off the events.

“Take your photos, that’s fine,” Clark said. “Create a photo store on the Web site, that is not fine. That is pretty clear.”

Clark said the WIAA doesn’t receive a large amount of money from the contracts, but declined to give a dollar amount.

“What makes it worthwhile for us is getting those images, not just from the popular sports, but other sports that we can use in our publications,” Clark said.

Clark said the WIAA and the two companies with the exclusive contracts ? Visual Image Photography and When We Were Young Productions ? have offered a compromise.

For $100, newspapers can shoot an unlimited amount of photographs and videos at regional and sectional events.

Once the events reach the state tournament level, the newspapers are restricted to using images only for editorial purposes. The newspapers haven’t accepted that deal.

WNA members and The Associated Press Editors Association plan to discuss the issue this week at meetings in Wisconsin Dells.

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