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Illinois High School Association, Press Association Fight Over Photos

By Margaret Lyons in News on Feb 11, 2008 10:52PM

2008_2_11.ihsa.jpgThe Illinois High School Association is coming under fire from the media this week with a story in the Reader and an editorial in the Trib about the organization's recent decision to ban photographers from high school sporting events unless they sign a document promising not to sell their photos. Yikes.

The IHSA has a contract with VIP, a Wisconsin-based photography firm that takes photos at high school sporting events and sells them to athletes and their families. Or...whoever else buys photos of high school sporting events. The IHSA says press is welcome--as long as the photos they take aren't resold by their newspaper. (Lots of papers sell prints of their photos.) From the Trib:

High school sports are public events. Trying to block coverage of them by news organizations is akin to barring coverage of a school board meeting. The Tribune won't sign the IHSA waiver. Other newspapers in the state intend to take the same position. So if the IHSA blocks their photographers from events, those events won't be visually recorded by the newspapers.

The solution the Trib is getting behind is a bill currently knocking around the state legislature, co-sponsored by state representativ Joseph Lyons (D-Chicago) [no relation] and state senator James DeLeo (D-Chicago). The law, according to the Reader,

provides that “no public elementary or public secondary school” or association of schools “may infringe upon or attempt to regulate in any manner the dissemination of news or the use of visual images by the news media” of interscholastic competition.

The Illinois Press Association is none too pleased with the IHSA's position, either. But the IHSA says it's not a constitutional issue--it's a commercial one.