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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

Selling NCAA Tournament Photo
Soobum Im, Photographer, Assistant
Portland | OR | | Posted: 11:18 PM on 11.09.09
->> I took Big Sky Women's Soccer Tournament (NCAA) last weekend and player's relative wants to buy a photo from me. What should I do? As far as I know, I can't sell any NCAA photo.
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Jordan Edgcomb, Student/Intern, Photographer
Laramie | WY | USA | Posted: 11:47 PM on 11.09.09
->> Talk to the school's SID and see who their NCAA correspondent is, they should be able to answer that for you. As far as I know, technically you can sell a photo to a parent as long as its for private use only. I had the same issue and my SID said I could sell the image because the NCAA has a rule against such sales but technically can't enforce it in the "real world".
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Jordan Edgcomb, Student/Intern, Photographer
Laramie | WY | USA | Posted: 11:55 PM on 11.09.09
->> I found the email I received from my SID concerning this, ill quote the area of the email that was bolded to me:

During its April 6, 2005, teleconference, the NCAA Division I Academics/Eligibility/Compliance Cabinet Subcommittee on Legislative Review/Interpretations noted that such steps are unnecessary "inasmuch as legal precedent affords individuals and agencies the right to sell photographs for private use". Further, the subcommittee noted that if a student-athlete's name or picture appears on any other commercial items or is used to promote a commercial product or service, the student-athlete (or the institution acting on behalf of the student-athlete) is required to take steps (e.g., send a cease and desist request) to stop such an activity in order to retain his or her eligibility for intercollegiate athletics.

So basically the NCAA is stating they have a rule that they can’t enforce because in the “real world” it is legal. So as far as his question he could sell them to the parents since they would be using them for private use (I assume the parents won’t put them on E-Bay). Clear as mud huh!
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Russ Isabella, Photographer
Salt Lake City | UT | USA | Posted: 12:09 AM on 11.10.09
->> Another side to the vagaries of NCAA regulations is that if you sell photos to a player's relatives but do not make these photos available to the general public, your sale can be construed as a favor or 'gift,' which would jeopardize the player's eligibility. All of which is to further highlight the difficulty in understanding the regulations and the potential for multiple interpretations. Tread carefully.
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Max Waugh, Photographer
Bothell | WA | USA | Posted: 1:20 AM on 11.10.09
->> Speaking to the school's SID really is the next step at this point. The school may already have a system in place for selling photos of their athletes, and even if they're okay with you selling the print, you may have to abide by their regulations regarding print sales.
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Allen Hubbard, Photographer
Spokane | WA | USA | Posted: 2:42 AM on 11.10.09
->> "Another side to the vagaries of NCAA regulations is that if you sell photos to a player's relatives but do not make these photos available to the general public, your sale can be construed as a favor or 'gift,' which would jeopardize the player's eligibility."

Russ:
In my dealings with this I was told I could "SELL" to the athlete or relative but could not give them to them at no charge because of this rule. I was advised not to make them available to the public until the athletes eligibility was used up (at the end of their last game or event for the school).

I'm sure that just muddied the waters more!
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Peter Buehner, Photographer
Orono | ME | USA | Posted: 6:35 AM on 11.10.09
->> While in the "real world" it is unenforceable, the institution can deny credentials to any photographer who violates those rules.
Unlike Allen, my experience is in line with Russ Isabellas caveat. I was told that all images sold have to be done through the university. I have had to deny images to several athletes and their families.

Now the worst part is that if you work for the University like I do, then you are easy to control. In my area there are a couple of photographers who sell their prints online blatantly. They also sell photos to the local papers, AP, etc. so the school sees that as good publicity. The school wants all the press that they can get so they are unwilling to tell the photogs to stop selling prints. they offer prints at prices well below the University's prices.
It would be nice to supplement my income with some sales but...not gonna happen with the way things are now. My conclusion is that shooting NCAA...take your salary and don't count on income from print sales.
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John Plassenthal, Photographer
Vandalia | OH | USA | Posted: 3:49 PM on 11.12.09
->> Legally, if you own the rights to the image you are free to sell prints as these are legally defined as editorial use and do not infringe on trademarks or anyone elses rights.

Commercial use (advertising a product) requires consent from all parties which is where the amature status thing comes in. More importantly the schools and NCAA want their cut in this area.

NCAA rules have the clause about print sales because they can't legally force a photographer not to sell. Giving a print free can be a gratuity same as cash which can be an issue for the schools. NCAA rules also prohibit selling a parent or student anything that isn't available to the general public for the same reasons. Therefore if you make the prints available (key word available) for the public to buy the parents can also without effecting eligibility. (As a pro I have to sell prints of my cousin can can't give the prints to a family member, I talked with a compliance officer at NCAA HQ to get this straight.)

The NCAA doesn't have a problem with photographers selling prints, however the SIDs become another subject. If the SID doesn't like anything you do that they don't want you to do they can stop giving you credentials. Therefore you need to get the SID on board to prevent a backlash from them. While it is your right under the law and NCAA rules for you to sell prints, the univeristy will likely want a cut (they aren't entitled to). They may also want to force the sales to their contract guy they pay to be there.
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Larry Lawson, Photographer
Portland | OR | USA | Posted: 4:29 PM on 11.12.09
->> Chiming in here to share the pain..

Had the same situation - parents wanting to hire me. Not having done NCAA before, really didn't think about it, and as it was from the second row, no credentials were at stake here.

Following year I'm working with another SID and broach the subject of if parents can hire me, and there's a huge NO in his email. And then the investigation begins on my part. NCAA used to have a legal guide out on this - it doesn't exist anymore. So I've found that...

You can be hired by an agency for editorial use and get paid for that, but that agency (or you) gets you the cred for entry so no worries about losing the entry availability. The news agency (icon, getty, et al) sells them and you make a little off of it).

Parents *paying* are another matter - see Alan Hubbard's post above. You can't give them to the athletes/parents as it would violate eligibility but you can be hired. And I'd take them from the stands if you can, keeping the ticket as proof of not using the school's credentials.

In talking to a lawyer friend of mine, there's a line between being hired to take photos, and taking photos to sell them for profit. Lawyers... ugh. But they can save your bacon.

If you take photos without creds and can sell them, it would take a lot of work on the university's part to stop you (if they found out), but they could make life very hard (their trademarked, registered and copyrighted logo is on the player's uniforms....)

If you take photos with their creds and you try and sell them without a contract giving the university a cut, you'll probably lose your creds (in more way than one - SID's talk to each other).

Here's the thing - university SID's are all different people. Some care, some don't. But I would always ask first.
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Jeff Mills, Photographer, Photo Editor
Columbus | OH | USA | Posted: 4:47 PM on 11.12.09
->> Since the "legal" aspects of NCAA regulations are so confusing, I think often its better to simply look at it from an easy to understand perspective of how much is it worth to you ?

I get tons of requests from parents et al wanting to purchase images they may have seen ran in some publication, or sometimes just when they see me shooting at a game or event. However, realistically these parents are not interested in anything beyond a 8x10 for $20, if that.

I need money as much as the next guy but frankly don't feel its worth my time. You take the time to get in touch with the parents, send them preview images, maybe go through past games seeing what else you can offer and you end up with a single sale of a $5 4x6.

Simply not worth it from a time perspective and most definitely not worth it in terms of possible negative repercussions I could face from my university or editorial clients.

Whats worth more ? A one time print sale or an on going position as a university photographer ? More than likely its never that simple and black and white I realize but just have to look at what your time is worth and if the risk seems worthwhile.

I know plenty of folks who regularly sell images to parents, some even give images to parents. Some have been doing it for years and seem to be doing just fine. Others have had credentials yanked for doing the same practice.

I don't risk it. I prefer to know that I'll continue to be able to get future work and remain in good standing with my clients, even if I may in fact have the law on my side when it comes to selling images
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Tim Cowie, Photographer
Davidson | NC | USA | Posted: 11:30 PM on 11.12.09
->> Here's the deal.

By NCAA rule, the only people that can sell pictures of their athletes for non-media purposes (parents for example) are the schools themselves.

It is against NCAA rules for anyone else to sell photos of athletes other than the schools and/or the NCAA themselves.

The school can hire a photographer or outside source to sell the photos on their behalf, but an individual who (for example) shoots a college basketball game and sells those images without permission, is breaking NCAA rules.

The question is, what can the NCAA do to me if I sell these photos and violate the rules.

NOTHING. However, the school in question can get in trouble for this and so their only recourse is to make sure that the photographers that are breaking this rule don't get credentials in the future. This is typically passed on to the conference office and to the NCAA. We have a US Presswire photographer that has been banned at the school I do a lot of work far as well as other conference school events.
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 1:40 AM on 11.13.09
->> Soobum,

We won't tell anybody.

--Mark
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John Plassenthal, Photographer
Vandalia | OH | USA | Posted: 3:46 PM on 11.13.09
->> Tim,

I'm not sure where you got your information but the NCAA does not have a written rule or policy that talks about selling photos for editorial purposes (legal definition of sellig a print to a parent falls into editorial usage). The only rules that exist have to do with commercial usage, the university's usage, and usage of photos from championships. A lot of SIDs will say exactly what you posted, but that is not what is in the actual NCAA rules.

Jeff is correct that if you've got the contract with the university it's not worth the risk, but you also have the ability to get the people to buy through the university and get a cut as part of your contract. If you are a freelance, you don't necessarily get that option. Local universities here want freelancers to provide the images for free in exchange for access so they can sell them with no cut.

Larry is absolutely right, buy a ticket and you can sell all the prints you want to whomever you want. But the SID can still yank your credentials for any reason, and competition is good enough for some.

Make no mistake, trademark issues do not apply to print sales only to commercial usage of the images. Famous case of a photograph of a Coke can where Coke lost, courts held trademark infringement is based on the usage of the photo NOT the content.

Whether it's the colleges or the pros, the copyright owner owns the rights to your images the instant you click the shutter. They can't take your rights without compensation. They can bully you into believing you don't have the rights, or get you to forego your rights for continued access. But that is your choice.
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Thread Title: Selling NCAA Tournament Photo
Thread Started By: Soobum Im
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