AP Bans Use of Famed Woodstock Photo By Members

By: Joe Strupp If your coverage of the 40th anniversary of Woodstock is going to include a black and white version of the famous photo of a couple hugging under a blanket, you might have to hold off.

Associated Press issued a "photo elimination" notice this week that directs members not to use the image of Nick and Bobbi Ercoline that was shot at the 1969 event, and has been distributed for years by AP and other news outlets.

The photo has become nearly as famous as the three-day concert itself, gracing the cover of the concert's album and many related images.

The notice issued Aug. 10 states: "eliminate immediately from all systems and archives," later adding, "AP has no permission from the copyright holder to use the image. There is no replacement."

The notice also shows the photo with a large red circle and line through it.

Asked why AP had taken the step this week as the 40th anniversary approached and news outlets were likely to use the image, AP spokesman Jack Stokes stated in an e-mail:

"The Woodstock photo we eliminated is a black-and-white version of a color photo by Burk Uzzle, who is the copyright holder and who is represented by the Laurence Miller Gallery in New York. Our photo editing team noted that the black-and-white photo in our photo archive -- a handout from 40 years ago -- did not contain the proper sourcing info."

Several editors who spoke with E&P said the elimination did not dramatically affect their coverage as many were planning to use other images instead anyway.

"Our story was local reaction and used local photographs that we took or were given to us," said Larry Nyland, deputy managing editor/visual at The Journal News in White Plains, N.Y., which ran a collage of Woodstock images on the front page today "I don't know why they would do that."

Rex Smith, editor of the Times Union in Albany, N.Y., said his paper ran an interview with the couple, who are still married and living in New York State, but offered a photo of them today holding the famous image of 1969. "We have no plans to use it," he said of the older image. "What we are going to do on Woodstock is not going to include it."

But at least one newspaper, The Times Herald-Record in Middletown, N.Y. -- the closest daily paper to Bethel, where the event occurred -- is running the image of the couple.

Executive Editor Derek Osenenko said it will go on Page One on Saturday. He said the paper got permission from the photographer, Uzzle, himself. "Everybody has been using that photo all along," Osenenko said.


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