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Ill. news organizations challenge rules on high school sports

By The Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Illinois Press Association and two member newspapers have filed a lawsuit against the Illinois High School Association, challenging rules regarding the use of photographs and access to sporting events.

"We have voiced our opposition to the IHSA but they have declined to accommodate the press in a free and fair manner," IPA Executive Director David L. Bennett said in a statement. "We can no longer sit on the bench on this."

The lawsuit filed in Sangamon County Circuit Court by the IPA, The (Springfield) State Journal-Register and The (Crystal Lake) Northwest Herald seeks a temporary restraining order barring enforcement of IHSA rules regarding “secondary-use” photos and videotape of games.

Secondary-use photos are those not printed in a traditional newspaper, Bennett said. Newspaper photographers typically shoot dozens of pictures at a game, but editors use only one or two to accompany a story.

Newspapers often post the remaining photos on their Web sites, but the IHSA wants to assert control over their use, Bennett said.

Officials did not return telephone messages left at the IHSA's Bloomington headquarters and the IHSA executive director's home in time for this story.

According to the lawsuit, the IHSA has contracted with Visual Image Photography Inc. for exclusive and unlimited access to all state tournament sites and photo opportunities. At the same time, IHSA requires newspapers that want tournament media passes to sign an agreement limiting their own access to secondary-use photos, it said.

"Allowing a private party to have unfettered access while limiting the press is another example of prior restraint and also violates the state's 'equal protection' clause of the Illinois Constitution," according to the lawsuit.

Sue Schmitt, publisher of The State Journal-Register, said her staff frequently uses photos not published in the newspaper on its Web site and also makes them available to the public.

"The idea that access could be denied to our photographers if we refuse to seek the sanction of a quasi-governmental body to use our own work is unacceptable," Schmitt said in a statement.

Partial compromise reached on photos of Ill. high school games
Still at issue in dispute between press group, high school association: newspapers' use of pictures on their Web sites. 11.19.07


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