Still no picture agreement with FA on eve of season

As the football season gets under way the Newspaper Publishers Association has still to agree a deal with the Football Association on rights for photographers, writes Dominic Ponsford.

However, the NPA has reached short-term agreements with the Premier League and the Football League. And a deal has been struck over picture rights for the Rugby World Cup, which kicks off in October in Australia.

The picture rights row erupted in May when the FA produced entry contracts for photographers to sign at the FA Cup Final and at an England versus Serbia and Montenegro international. The Daily Mail responded by blanking out advertising hoardings on football photographs.

The dispute centres around who owns the lucrative copyright on photographs taken at sporting events. The issue is not just confined to football: the NPA has also been in talks with the All-England Tennis Club at Wimbledon, rugby union’s Zurich Premier League, and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club.

NPA director Steve Oram said: “We are having constructive talks with the FA and those talks are ongoing.”

He added that he did not anticipate further copyright problems with the FA while the talks were on.

The NPA is also in discussions with international football governing bodies Fifa and Uefa.

Oram said: “We have been dealing with a whole raft of sporting organisations. In the case of the FA Premier League, we’ve agreed with Richard Scudamore that the last threeyear agreement will be extended for a further year. The Football League has also agreed to extend the agreement from last season for another year.”

The current agreements in place with the two bodies chiefly govern the use of images outside the printed page.

There had been concern that the organisers of the Rugby World Cup were seeking to impose “very seriously restrictive” copyright terms on newspapers.

But after lobbying from the NPA and from the Australian press, the rugby authorities have revised their rules.

Oram said: “The outcome has been substantially amended terms which are much more suitable for newspaper publishers. They have made a lot of changes for us.

“Initially they wanted their own copyright on photographs and wanted to seriously restrict what publishers could do with them. Now copyright will remain with the newspapers.”

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