Heavy defeat for Celtic after match pics boycott

Bad Press: Celtic felt the wrath of the tabloids

Celtic Football Club has taken such a battering from the Scottish press that it has backed down from trying to enforce draconian copyright demands on photographers.

Across the board, tabloids and broadsheets north of the border boycotted picture coverage of the game last week between Celtic and Dutch club Ajax.

The Daily Record, Scottish Daily Mirror and The Sun all appeared on Thursday morning with blank spaces where match pictures  should have appeared.  Instead, the club found itself the target of some deeply hostile comment.

The broadsheets and mid-market tabloids eschewed the blank spaces, but told their readers forcefully why they were not seeing photographs from the Parkhead ground.

The Scottish newspapers reached boycott point  after talks between the Scottish Daily Newspaper Society and Celtic’s commercial arm over who owned copyright to pictures taken at the ground seemed to be going nowhere (Press Gazette, 26 July).

By last Friday, faced by the bad press and the likelihood that Saturday’s match against Parma would receive the same treatment from the Sundays, Celtic rethought its contracts for photographers’ passes.

On Monday, Jim Raeburn, SDNS director, met Celtic chief executive Iain McLeod and later informed his editor-members that the new conditions for passes "unequivocally state that copyright remains with the newspaper publisher or agency and does not limit their freedom to syndicate images to third parties".

He explained: "We have agreed to license Celtic to reproduce photographs taken within Celtic Park for its own internal, non-commercial use. The reality of that is that it is a recognition of the kind of co-operation that has existed between newspapers, certain agencies and the club in any event."

If the club wishes to use photographs for other purposes, it has to seek consent of the copyright holder, subject to agreed financial arrangements.

Raeburn said: "Naturally I am pleased to have achieved an outcome that protects newspaper publishers’ copyright. It was a fundamental issue for us that we couldn’t afford to concede, especially when others were watching the outcome of this. It had much wider implications than Celtic Football Club.

"I have no doubt that the unprecedented solidarity that was demonstrated by Scottish newspapers and Scottish editions of UK newspapers had a big influence on the outcome."

McLeod said Celtic was pleased there had been a "mutually satisfactory conclusion" to discussions and that the reassurances the club  had been seeking in relation to the Celtic brand "have been provided".

By Jean Morgan

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