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Photography Question 
Jonathan L. Mayo

Leagle Advice

I shoot a lot of sports photography, my clients being minor league baseball and NCAA teams, hometown newspapers of players, etc.

I sometimes have offers from players, families, fans wanting to purchase individual copies of my work, or companies who advertise in the venue and want exciting action shots with their ad in the background. I am unclear who I can and can't sell to in these situations.

I have to sign an agreement with MILB every season, though its not very detailed.

I have never signed anything for NCAA.

Each Media Relations or Sports Information Person has a different interpretation, but nobody can give me a true source for rules.

Does anyone know of a site where the rules and my rights are discussed?

I'm not ready to spend a fortune to discuss individual cases with an attorney at this point. I'm just looking for basic guidance and resources for reading myself.



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8/20/2007 8:55:19 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Unfortunately Jon, you're asking a pretty specific question and the answer, to a greater extent, is likely contractual based upon your agreements with the various entities you mentioned. Aside from the particular trademarks, image usage rules, copyrights, ad infinitim. So, in my view, since these matters are particularized, no matter how vague your agreement(s) is/are, contract/agreements, you'd best talk to an attorney specializing in sports law and/or intellectual property.

I say that since if you go out of bounds, so-to-speak, beyond the purview of your agreement(s), you could easily end up on the wrong end of a suit brought by a player, an advertiser, a team or league itself.
In essence, the actual source for the rules that apply to these types of transactions, are found in cases of opinions written by trial judges, appellate courts, law review articles, particular state civil law statutes that applies to contracts, privacy laws pertaining to major league atheletes, intellectual property, trademarks, and so forth. Besides, media relations folks aren't lawyers and they'd probably be ill-advised to be interpreting your agreements. I'd also be hard-pressed to find one single reference for answers to this one.
Take it light.

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8/20/2007 9:32:42 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  I can tell you that the NCAA does keep the rights to all photos(and video) shot at any and all NCAA events.
If what you're doing is providing photos to the schools then schools can give passes to media or an individual without you having to sign something.
But for anything outside of that would require NCAA permission. So those businesses that want to use a picture from a game have to ask the NCAA.

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8/21/2007 3:54:53 AM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Greg is quite right, Jon. You're going to find enormous differences between the release and use agreements for major leagues and teams versus public or private schools with teams, although naturally, being "the official" team photographer, will help quite a lot in getting your work sold to parents of team players.

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8/21/2007 11:00:26 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  I don't even think he can do that. I do know that he can't give a picture to anybody that is currently playing because that would be a NCAA violation. Even if it's a picture he would delete and never use.
I know of schools that you can purchase pictures thru the school, but I think if you're seeking to make money from NCAA pictures, you might have to work out a deal to provide prints to the school, and you may have to hide it by doing it as a purchase order.
They pay you for getting a print made. And then as far as the prints being actually sold, the school does it.

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8/21/2007 11:36:22 AM

Jonathan L. Mayo   I thank you both for your thoughts. I know that there is a major difference between the MILB and NCAA (college "amature" athletes). Whats amazing is how conflicting the information I get when searching for info on either.

MILB makes me sign a contract which mentions restrictions on uses of photos, but does not outline those restrictions (the contract is much more concerned with my understanding that I take my life in my hands each time I enter the ballpark).

NCAA doesn't make you sign anything. Everything in NCAA refers to "in accordance with NCAA regulations" - even where you can shoot on the field, can you stand, kneel, etc. But nobody I have asked was ever able to provide said regs. I am trying to find someone at NCAA that can help me obtain this info.

Both allow me to sell images as part of a recognized news gathering process. I can sell to any newspaper, I can sell to trade sites such as Baseball America (both MILB and NCAA baseball), etc.

I was told last year by the SID of a college basketball team that I was allowed to sell photos to scouts for NBA teams that were looking at player for the Draft. And when he was drafted the NBA team bought a pakcage from me.

A strange world...

Thanks again.


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8/21/2007 2:15:17 PM

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