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NCAA Photography
David Hague, Photographer, Student/Intern
Pittsburgh | Pa | USA | Posted: 10:10 PM on 05.04.09
->> I am shooting DII Regional Championship in golf. I am being paid by 1 school. I keep getting parents asking me if they can get/buy photos of their child. Does anyone have an answer? My contact at the school is not much help. I have looked at the bylaws on and not sure if I can. Any help would be great.
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David Hague, Photographer, Student/Intern
Pittsburgh | Pa | USA | Posted: 10:11 PM on 05.04.09
->> My thing is I am not sure if I am allowed to sell them on my own personal site.
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Stew Milne, Photographer
Providence | RI | USA | Posted: 10:20 PM on 05.04.09
->> Yes you can. Check the archives, but your copyright trumps any NCAA bylaw.
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Jeff Mills, Photographer, Photo Editor
Columbus | OH | USA | Posted: 10:37 PM on 05.04.09
->> When I have parents ask for images I refer them to the schools sports publications dept, which does make the images I take availible to student athletes and parents for a small fee.

That way the parents can still get their pictures and I keeps me totally off the hook of any wrong doing, credentials violations and so forth.

NCAA rules are so totally confusing and vague on this matter. I personally just don't want to risk my relationship with the school over something silly like selling a parent an image, and 99% of the time its going to be nothing more than a $5 4x6 print anyways, and thats for the ones that actually are willing to pay money. Lots of parents simply think you'll just give them some shots for free! That can defiantly be frowned upon by the compliance office because your then doing a favor for the family of a student athlete. No your no leasing someones mom a Hummer, but a violation is a violation in their book.

Basically it comes down to how much money do I stand to risk potentially dealing with a parent vs how much money am I going to make in a continued relationship with the school.

I'd simply tell the parents that your shooting for the school and they can obtain them that way. Do you really want to mess around with dealing with a lot of parents anyways and having to post them all online etc ?
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Stanley Leary, Photographer
Roswell | GA | USA | Posted: 10:53 PM on 05.04.09
->> Talk with the sports department. However, selling them to the families is a big difference than selling them to the general public.
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David Lovell, Photographer
Adelphi | MD | USA | Posted: 10:55 PM on 05.04.09
->> If you're being paid, did you sign a contract? The contract might say that you don't own the photos, in which case, no you cannot. If there is no piece of paper that you signed that says you don't own the photos, then you do own the photos, and you can sell anything you own. A couple of problems: there may be marks (trademarks, etc.) in the photos that you don't own. If this is a public place with no expectation of privacy then you have a possible argument around that. Another problem is some people might not like you selling things you own. A strict interpretation of the NCAA rules says that by selling images of the athletes, you are essentially using them to promote a commercial purpose (yourself), which is not illegal on your part but is strictly a violation of their eligibility, and technically they (the students or the school) can get in trouble for this. In exchange for causing them trouble, they can simply refuse to credential you for future events, whether they're paying you or not.

The only people that I know of who have worked these things out have done so with explicit cooperation from the school they're working with/for. The fact that your university contact isn't helpful is a little troubling, although you may be dealing with the wrong person. If this is a sports information director, somebody presumably young, barely out of school, with almost no experience, then they aren't the right person. Most schools have a compliance officer or associate athletic director who is in a position to make this kind of call. If they say it's OK, then change their mind later, the worst thing that will probably happen is they'll say OK, we were wrong, you have to stop. If you get an OK from them, save the email; you may need it later. If you don't have any of these things, you can take your chances, and maybe just claiming ignorance later will actually work.
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David Hague, Photographer, Student/Intern
Pittsburgh | Pa | USA | Posted: 11:03 PM on 05.04.09
->> My thing is I am shooting for 1 school and parents from other schools are the one asking. I am not being paid to shoot them.
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Darren Whitley, Photographer
Maryville | MO | USA | Posted: 11:10 PM on 05.04.09
->> I work for a university as the official photographer.

We sell photos to student athletes and their parents. Often we will also sell to people they are dating so the prints may be gifted to the athlete. The compliance officer requires I be even handed about the pricing. No one gets a deal and no one gets special treatment. We also may be required to share sales information with the compliance officer from time to time so they can document things.

We do not sell images of student athletes with elgibility remaining to anyone but the families. Once the elgibility and need to protect their amateur status has concluded, whomever would like to purchase a photo may do so. We do not sell or license university images of athletes for commercial use.

Interpretations of whether you may sell the images or not is up to the interpretation of each institution.
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Jeff Mills, Photographer, Photo Editor
Columbus | OH | USA | Posted: 11:57 PM on 05.04.09
->> David, another thing to consider is if the quality of work your doing for your paying client is going to suffer because your trying to shoot other schools athletes for those parents.

How many parents do you have lined up that actually have committed to buy photos and what type of minimum orders do you think your going to get from them ?

Do you want to risk missing one of the athletes your being paid to shoot sinking a 30 footer for an eagle because you were off shooting some other athlete for a parent who might not even buy anything for you ?

What type of repeat client could those parents be verse the school your shooting for ?

If the school you are shooting for knows your not only shooting for them but also shooting for hire for any parents there would they be okay with that ?

Its not just an issue of if your allowed to but if it would be in your best intrest to overall. Risk vs return.
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Matt Brown, Photographer
Fullerton | CA | USA | Posted: 12:12 AM on 05.05.09
->> Stew- you are wrong. You can and will make the athletes ineligible. The NCAA has hard rules on selling photos. The NCAA can't stop you, it can hurt the kids. I helped write the rules some years back. It can get ugly.
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Steven Ickes, Photographer
Mechanicsburg | PA | USA | Posted: 12:59 AM on 05.05.09
->> I've regularly shot DII football. During the regular season, all sales have been handled through a specific DII football web site, with full understanding and cooperation of the individual schools. It was my understanding that the NCAA allowed each school to police the regular season. However, once we got into the playoffs, everything we did was regulated and overseen by the NCAA. At that time I was told that all images were available for editorial use only as specified by the NCAA.

As Matt stated, you may not hurt yourself but you can negatively impact the eligibility of the student athletes. Again, I'm assuming that editorial use is fine but anything beyond that is questionable. Best to check directly with the school and NCAA yourself.
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David Hague, Photographer, Student/Intern
Pittsburgh | Pa | USA | Posted: 1:02 AM on 05.05.09
->> Ok Thank you all for your insite on the subject. I am glad you took time to answer this for me.
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Jeff Mills, Photographer, Photo Editor
Columbus | OH | USA | Posted: 1:29 AM on 05.05.09
->> No problem David, as those compliance folks like to say "ask first, then act"

Definatly smart to get the information before shooting rather than those folks who go and sell a bunch of photos and then ask if it was okay after the fact when they get a letter from the school demanding a website with images for sale be taken down.
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Dayne Teves, Photographer
Waipahu | Hi | USA | Posted: 4:03 AM on 05.05.09
->> Hey David,
I have a contract with Hawaii Pacific University in the Pac West Conference that gives me secondary rights to sell prints. I would suggest to get something in writing from the sports media director from your school.
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Chuck Steenburgh, Photographer
Lexington | VA | USA | Posted: 7:20 AM on 05.05.09
->> NCAA has different rules for championships, which are "NCAA events," as opposed to regular contests which fall under NCAA rules but are not "NCAA events."

The NCAA claims exclusive photo rights over its championships. NCAA Photos (for the next couple of years, at least;, Rich Clarkson & Associates) is the sole authorized reseller of prints from NCAA championships. (AP Images is also part of the distribution process by I'm frankly not all that clear on how this arrangement works now.)

Look closely at the credential you have for the event and it should spell all this out - assuming this is, in fact, an NCAA championship event and not a conference championship (though conferences generally have similar rules). I've shot many NCAA championship events and this is always the case.

Matt - "some years ago" this was true but "a few years ago" the NCAA changed their rules so that athletes and schools weren't penalized by photographers selling prints (see last sentence): Use of a Student-Athlete’s Name or Picture without Knowledge or Permission. If a student-athlete’s name or picture appears on commercial items (e.g., T-shirts, sweatshirts, serving trays, playing cards, posters) or is used to promote a commercial product sold by an individual or agency without the student athlete’s knowledge or permission, the student-athlete (or the institution acting on behalf of the student-athlete) is required to take steps to stop such an activity in order to retain his or her eligibility for intercollegiate athletics. Such steps are not required in cases in which a student-athlete’s photograph is sold by an individual or agency (e.g., private photographer, news agency) for private use. (Revised: 1/11/97, 5/12/05)

The bottom line can do whatever you want, but don't expect to get future access to NCAA events if you flaunt their rules.
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Walt Middleton, Photographer, Photo Editor
Columbus | OH | USA | Posted: 9:32 AM on 05.05.09
->> I agree with Jeff on just about everything...

But just to be thorough I’ll give it to you as well,
As I understand it...
When I’m contracted with a school, I’m always contracted to provide images for “Official University Use Only, NO 3rd Party Resale of any kind”
I always provide this type of license agreement for two reasons.
1 Images from a lot of schools end up on third parties websites being sold as prints.
I’m ok with this as long as the school has paid for an additional license to do so. But, that is a separate contract.
2 Some schools are in the habit of giving images away to media outlets for their use, or even using them in publications that are not university produced. Such as books, sometimes commercials…
Again I’m ok with this as long as the school or whatever outlet has paid for the additional license.
Now for selling to individual parents, students, fans. As far as I know in regards to NCAA credential rules. You are not allowed to do so. It is construed as Commercial sales and as such is prohibited.
An example of this, at last year’s Outdoor T&F nationals, an individual’s credential was revoked for a few hours until this person took images down off of their site that appeared to be for sale to parents. This person was shooting for I believe three schools.
Another example, a school I was shooting for at this year’s Women’s Swimming & Diving Nationals told parents to speak with me about selling them images because the school had agreed to have me be the outlet for print sales to parents and athletes. I did not of course advertize this at all but did sell to those who were directed to me by the school due to the agreement with the school.

I think it boils down to this.
You can sell anything editorially unless otherwise agreed not to,
You can sell prints as long as an agreement is in place with the University of that School whose athletes the prints are of.
You cannot advertize that you are selling prints from any NCAA event. If you are you are using the NCAA logo commercially as well as the prints.
You cannot give images to parents or athletes because this is considered a gift and there for an eligibility problem. The same goes for the schools. They cannot give prints to athletes or parents, also a gift.

This is how I understand it. And with every rule there are exceptions and different interpretations.
So, good luck.
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Tom Morris, Photographer
West Monroe | LA | USA | Posted: 9:53 AM on 05.05.09
->> Chuck, didn't that paragraph get voted down by the NCAA universities in '05?

I work with a D-1 university through their foundation. This was set up by the compliance officer and the only way they would operate. The university gets rights to the photos for usage by the university in their publications. Any sales are done on a website developed by me and paid for by the foundation. The foundation gets 10% of any sales, the athletics media relations dept. gets 10% and the photographer gets 80% of all sales. The prices are slightly adjusted up to compensate for the 20% cuts by the university.
Media relations loves it because when an athlete or family member calls to get pictures, he refers them to the website. End of inquiry. They don't have to search for photos, have them reprinted, etc.
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Daniel Putz, Photographer
Jefferson | MD | USA | Posted: 10:38 AM on 05.05.09
->> So, for Conference championships, the "NCAA events" rule doesn't apply? I'm hearing from a local state Conference that THEY own the rights to images and such from its state championships. Is this likely to be true?
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Alicia Wagner Calzada, Photographer
San Antonio | TX | USA | Posted: 11:26 AM on 05.05.09
->> I personally think this claim to ownership of the rights of photographs at events (which keeps popping up in a variety of settings) is far reaching. You can assign away your copyrights, but only in writing. So you don't lose your rights by hanging a tag around your neck. But you might lose your rights by signing an agreement that agrees to those terms.

This particular situation sounds like it involves a variety of factors- your agreement with the school, the NCAA rules and copyright law itself. I don't think anyone here knows all of the details of your agreement, so please remember that advice from photographers is not the same as advice from a lawyer. I think your agreement is the most appropriate thing for you to rely on, but if you are really concerned, try calling Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts.
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Matt Brown, Photographer
Fullerton | CA | USA | Posted: 11:45 AM on 05.05.09
->> Chuck- that was voted down. Tom Morris is running the model that the NCAA is granted to schools and photographers. All sales must go through the schools.
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Darren Whitley, Photographer
Maryville | MO | USA | Posted: 12:03 PM on 05.05.09
->> Hunting down photos for parents can be a significant waste of time. That's why we've gone to the online storefront. I limit the amount of time the photos are available as well.

At a purple-clad university in Kansas, there used to be a retired engineer who photographed the football games and GAVE the photos to the seniors as a donation to the university. That's a pretty significant benefit, but the students don't receive it until the conclusion of their playing time.
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Jim Pierce, Photographer
Waltham | MA | usa | Posted: 12:29 PM on 05.05.09
->> The original post states Div II which has its own bylaws. the following is specific to Div II Promotion by a Third Party of Photographs. Any party hired by the member institution, the
member conference or NCAA may sell and distribute a picture of a student-athlete only if: (Adopted: 1/12/04
effective 8/1/04)
(a) The member institution, the member conference or the NCAA specifically designates the agency that is
authorized to receive orders for the film/photograph; (Adopted: 1/12/04 effective 8/1/04)
(b) Sales and distribution activities have the written approval of the member institution’s athletics director,
the member conference’s commissioner or the NCAA; and (Adopted: 1/12/04 effective 8/1/04)
(c) If the third party advertises the availability of the photograph, the third party is precluded from using the
name or picture of an enrolled student-athlete in any poster or other advertisement to promote the sale
or distribution of the film/photograph; and there shall be no indication in the makeup or wording of the
advertisement that squad members, individually or collectively, or the institution, the conference or the
NCAA endorses the product or services of the third party. (Adopted: 1/12/04 effective 8/1/04, Revised:
4/29/04) stated above is also in the div II bylaws but the above is NOT in the div I bylaws.

Of course always get the premission of the school that the player is playing for. They may have more strict rules/logo use/a contract with someone already selling etc.


My experience is get permission from the school first
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Jeff Stanton, Photographer
Princeton | IN | USA | Posted: 12:40 PM on 05.05.09
->> Guys, before you get your ass in a sling, listen to Matt Brown. Speculating on what is and isn't can cause a lot of problems, you your access and some kid his college career. Not worth if for what you can charge for routine images.
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Chuck Steenburgh, Photographer
Lexington | VA | USA | Posted: 1:40 PM on 05.05.09
->> Matt, et al - That paragraph was cut and pasted from the current NCAA Division I bylaws. It was not voted down, and it is current NCAA regulation.

The only way *schools* are allowed to participate and/or sanction photo sales is the process you are referring to. This is distinct from the actions of a photographer or agency acting on their own.

One can sell, independently, photos of athletes one takes at an NCAA event. There's nothing the NCAA can do about it once one has taken the photos, and they know it. That's the reason why they are not holding it against athletes and schools. All they can really do is deny one access to their events.

What *was* voted down was a proposal to allow more independence on the part of photographers/agencies in selling officialy sanctioned photos. Consequently, official photo sites must still be under the administrative control of the school or conference.

Daniel - YES, conference events are, conference events. NCAA championships are NCAA events. And regular-season contests are events of the "home" institution. Other tournaments are the events of the respective tournament organizers (BCA, bowl games, etc.).

Bottom line, if you sell photos independently, you, and only you, are breaking NCAA rules. You are certainly not breaking any laws or endangering anyone's eligibility (unless they are involved in the sale) but don't expect to be allowed into future NCAA championship events if they get wind of it.
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Chuck Steenburgh, Photographer
Lexington | VA | USA | Posted: 5:58 PM on 05.05.09
->> Oh, and Jim - my quote from the bylaws was ONLY to address Matt's contention that independent (i.e., "unauthorized") sales of photos would endanger an athlete or school's eligibility. That's why I included it in a separate section of my original post.
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Tom Morris, Photographer
West Monroe | LA | USA | Posted: 6:19 PM on 05.05.09
->> Thanks for your replies, Matt and Chuck.
Newspaper online sales are another area that's not really defined. Or cover sales by on their coverage of, say, March Madness. These agencies are third parties, too, and they contiue to sell their images online.
One trick I've learned this year (as newspaper photo straffs are being severely trimmed) is when the university releases a action photo or file photo from me the file's cutline information carries the credit line: "Mandatory Credit Line: Photo by TOM MORRIS/" or just "Photo by"
Hey! It beats "Courtesy Photo" and it markets our website and gets the word out there at no expense. The newspapers have been very cooperative about this, too . . . even a shot that appeared in NY Times this February carried that credit line info identifying the website.
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Tim Cowie, Photographer
Davidson | NC | USA | Posted: 7:22 PM on 05.06.09
->> I will make an assumption that you have not signed a contract with a school, conference or NCAA that gives them the full or specific rights to your copyrighted photos.

First there are two things to consider. What you can do legally and what you can do and still keep the business with that particular school or NCAA entity. These are two separate issues. The NCAA has rules, but can only enforce those rules to a point (or their membership schools).

Asssuming you own the rights/copyrights to your photos, you can do whatever you want with your photos, including selling them - just like you would if you took any other photo.


The NCAA governs its own championships, conference championships and its member insitutions (over 350 in DI alone). NCAA rules are what the schools and their athletes must follow. By NCAA rules you cannot sell photos of their athletes independently (except for media related purposes). If mom or dad ask you for photos of Johnny in the game you just shot, technically you are not allowed to sell photos to them.

The way to get around this, is you can be an approved photographer for the institution. Whatever financial arrangement you make with them (usually the Sports Info office), you can sell photos to people on their behalf. Pricing always needs to be the same for athletes and/or their families as what you would sell any ordinary Joe on the street (essentially you can't cut the athlete or their families a break just because they are athletes).

Head shots and shots from press conferences are never allowed. Essentially any posed picture. A team picture is allowed because there are two or more athletes in the same picture, as would a photo of say three captains together. Buttons for the mom's with the head shot of their son the football player are not allowed. Etc, etc. Essentially action shots are allowed.

So you are all saying, who cares what the NCAA says if they don't have any jurisdiction over me and I can do whatever I want.

What the NCAA says to its member schools is - follow our rules and have those that cover you follow our rules or we will penalize you and/or the athlete.

The next question is - what can the school do to the photographer, one they have little control over, to stop them from selling photos of their athletes?

Little really, but the power comes in the credential. The school enforces this by removing the credential from the photographer and not allowing them to shoot any of their events. In turn they report that photographer to the conference, who blacklists them from their conference championships credential list and notifies its other member schools to do the same.

If it's blatant, they report the same info to the NCAA for NCAA championships and if they choose to do so, they remove that photographer's company from the credential list.

Essentially they are saying - we can't stop you from selling the images, but we will stop you from taking anymore photos of our athletes in the future.

At the school I cover a lot, they have already decided to not reissue one photographers credential for next year - he works for one of the more promient media services.

On the other hand, again assuming you haven't signed anything specific, if you shoot for a university, they generally have the rights to use your photos for media purposes only (media guide, web site, development and admissions materials, etc.). They don't have the rights to sell your photos on their site or in the bookstore, etc., without written approval. Otherwise they are infringing on your copyright. So the next time you walk into the college bookstore and you see a calendar they are selling with one of your shots, I think it's a good time to have a conversation with your university contact about what they are doing.

Hope this helps!
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David Lovell, Photographer
Adelphi | MD | USA | Posted: 10:57 PM on 05.06.09
->> Kudos to Chuck Steenburgh, Tom Morris, and Tim Cowie for actually making a thread come closer to the truth as it got longer, which is normally the opposite of what happens.
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Thread Title: NCAA Photography
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