Wisconsin's newspapers and the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) are at odds over photographic and video rights to state championship events.
The WIAA , which oversees high school sports in Wisconsin, disagrees, having sold exclusive photographic and video rights to the championship events to two companies. The WIAA says newspapers may still shoot photos and videos for editorial use, but not for commercial use.
This response has the newspapers up in arms. How dare the WIAA take away the papers ability to provide photo's of athletes to parents who desire them.
The WIAA says the companies granted exclusivity, not the newspapers, should be allowed to profit off the events.
The WIAA has offered what they feel is a compromise. For $100, newspapers can shoot an unlimited amount of photographs and videos at regional and sectional events. But once they reach the state tournament level, the newspapers must only use the pictures for editorial purposes.
I'm already hearing from newspapers that say not only will they continue to sell photos that they take, but they will refuse to pay the $100 fee as well.
Who is going to win this one? Will the newspapers carry on and operate as they always have? And if they do, will the newspapers and the WIAA end up in court?
I've already heard one newspaper official say the WIAA should stick to managing high school Sports.
In my opinion, both sides have a point. The newspapers are just a portion of the media that provides outstanding coverage to schools throughout the year and you can't put a price tag on the publicity the WIAA and its member schools receive.
On the other hand, it's the WIAA's tournament. If they sell exclusive rights on photo's and video to individual companies, those organizations should be protected.
From a consumer standpoint, my one problem would be this. The newspapers will follow the teams and athletes in their respective areas. If a wrestler from Little Chute is wrestling in the state tournament and gunning for 7th place, the local newspaper is more likely to take a number of pictures of that wrestler. The company contracted by the WIAA isn't as likely to shoot every detail of every team because the interests aren't the same. When it comes to a parent or family member wanting to purchase a picture of that 7th place wrestler, the local newspaper will most likely have it and not the WIAA or its contracted photographer.
My solution would be this. Continue to charge a fee to individual newspapers for the right to take pictures and sell them. This fee can be more than $100, but should cover an entire calendar year, as well as all of the state tournaments.
The WIAA says it doesn't make a lot of money on this deal anyway. If that's the case, then why is the WIAA persistent in its effort to go against the newspapers? It's the newspapers that give high school sports the most coverage and they shouldn't be penalized for it.
The WIAA can make this go away if they wish, but don't count on it. It should be interesting to see how it comes out.