Editor’s note: The Associated Press reported that on Feb. 27, the state athletic association lifted its limits on newspapers' sale of photos from the state girls' high school basketball tournament, allowing photographers to take pictures at will.
NEW ORLEANS — Photographers walked out of last night's girl's high school
basketball tournament, rather than sign a form the Louisiana High School
Athletic Association was demanding that would limit newspapers' sale of photos
from the games.
The dispute is over who controls the photographic rights from the games and
if newspapers have the right to resell the game's pictures, said Tommy Henry,
commissioner of the association.
"We have a man that has been taking and selling pictures for the tournaments
since 1983," Henry said. "Now they want to do that. This is exploitation by the
Allowing newspapers to sell copies of its photos would violate the LHSAA's
contract with Musemeche Photography, Henry said. To prevent that, photographers
were asked to sign a form that said only the photos that physically appear in a
newspaper could be sold.
"The issue is not the resale of photos or even the posting of the pictures to
our Web site," said Baton Rouge Advocate Executive Editor Carl Redman.
"To me the issue is very much who controls the content of our newspaper. Do we
control it or does an outside agency?"
Redman likened the LHSAA request to having the Legislature demand that
newspapers could only take or publish limited photos of it.
"Obviously we object to this," said Kathy Spurlock, executive editor of
The (Monroe) News-Star. "These are high school games, played in a
public setting and open to the public. We are the representatives of the public
and have a right to cover the event and use our material as we see fit."
"We believe we have the right to decide what to do with our photographs,"
said Jim Amoss, editor of The Times-Picayune of New Orleans. "In our
view, there is no difference whether we choose to publish a photo in print or on
The dispute over photographic rights has been brewing for at least two years,
but came to a head yesterday.
"We were hoping to get a grace period and be able to work this out," said Pam
Mitchell-Wagner, executive director of the Louisiana Press Association. "We look
at this as a freedom-of-the-press issue. We can't allow anyone to dictate how we
cover an event."
Posting pictures to Web sites is a common occurrence, editors across the
"Multimedia is the trendy thing now," said Hammond Daily Star
Executive Editor Lil Mirando. "You may only have one picture in the paper, but
people know they can find more on the Web site."
For a high school soccer game, the News-Star posted 12 pictures on
Friday night, Spurlock said.
Although pictures on Web sites are for sale, editors said there was not much
"The Web site is an extension of the paper," said Rod Richardson, managing
editor of The (Shreveport) Times. "What difference does it make if
we have pictures there or in the paper?"
Newspapers said they would carry stories without pictures today.
"And we'll run a story letting our readers know why," said Spurlock.