Press fights rights-grab

WHO WROTE complaining about Celtic football club imposing "punitive and possibly unlawful conditions... in exchange for access to its ground"? Who complained that "The conditions sought at Celtic Park are so severe as to deny the ability of newspapers and photographers to do their jobs properly"? That'll be the Daily Record and - good grief! - the Scotsman. The same Scotsman that locked out photographers when they objected to it demanding all rights in their work.

In July the football club, as you'll have guessed, tried to make it a contractual condition of being allowed to take photos in its Parkhead ground that all rights in them would belong to it. Talks with the Scottish Daily Newspaper Society broke down - and on 25 July newspapers in Scotland presented a solid front of defiance, running reports of the game against Amsterdam club Ajax with messages to their readers in place of pictures.

Let's hear some more about the evils of such rights-grabs.

"Thanks to the arrogance and greed of Martin O'Neill's bosses at Parkhead, we are unable to bring you any pictures of Celtic's game against Ajax last night, or any other game for that matter, until further notice...." - the Daily Mirror.

"They're demanding we hand them the rights to the pictures we take at Parkhead for you... We think this is unreasonable and we are unwilling to submit to such demands" - the Sun.

Precisely. And, faced with such exemplary solidarity, the club backed down. It did win a non-exclusive licence to use photos taken by the papers' staff snappers for its internal, non-commercial use. "Naturally I am pleased," said SDNS director Jim Raeburn: "It was a fundamental issue for us that we couldn't afford to concede..."

We do hope you're listening to yourself, Jim, and and that you'll be supporting the Scotsman photographers in particular in their continuing legal battle with the paper.

Otherwise, the whole exercise would be a naked display of economic power - what some might think was monopoly power - wouldn't it?

Last modified: 10 August 2002 - © 2002 contributors
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