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Sell individual photos of NCAA Players
David Hague, Photographer
Pittsburgh | Pa | USA | Posted: 3:59 PM on 09.04.14
->> So this is a follow up as I have read the thread from the 2006 and 2011 about this.
I was asked to shoot an upcoming volleyball tournament for a Div II team. The school wants photos of their team. I inquired about shooting the other teams and this is what follows. The coaching staff says Sure, but check with SID and AD. They both said sure just check with compliance. After numerous emails I finally was told they did not have enough time to look in to it so for right now play it safe and no.
I am wondering if anyone on here has a better answer then that or knows a person that I should contact with in NCAA.
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David Hague, Photographer
Pittsburgh | Pa | USA | Posted: 4:35 PM on 09.04.14
->> This is the only help from the NCAA Guidelines Use of a Student-Athlete’s Name or Picture Without Knowledge or Permission. If a stu- dent-athlete’s name or picture appears on commercial items (e.g., T-shirts, sweatshirts, serving trays, playing cards, posters, photographs) or is used to promote a commercial product sold by an individual or agency with- out 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 effective 8/1/97, 4/17/07)
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Brad Mills, Photographer
Falls Church | VA | USA | Posted: 4:43 PM on 09.04.14
->> You have not given enough information for anyone to answer this question.

A key question is who are you planning to sell the photos to and for what usage.
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Mike Janes, Photographer
Attica | NY | USA | Posted: 4:44 PM on 09.04.14
->> Who are you shooting for and what purpose, is it for the schools use (i.e. websites/programs/etc) or to sell prints to the players and their family? I know several photographers who are official for tournaments of NCAA events and sell to the athletes and their family, many NCAA clients I have sell prints or allow me to do it, you just can not give them away as that's considered a "gift" if you're a business (i.e. fans or say mom with camera could give them away to their kids teammates without a problem).
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David Hague, Photographer
Pittsburgh | Pa | USA | Posted: 4:48 PM on 09.04.14
->> The school wants photos for their site other then that I would be looking to sell to Players/Parents that want them, and if a school wants them for their site. I have shot for several school and done senior photos for schools. That is where Compliance is having the issue understanding.
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Mike Janes, Photographer
Attica | NY | USA | Posted: 4:57 PM on 09.04.14
->> Sounds like there's some miscommunication happening here between you and the compliance office because there's no violation selling to the athletes and their families, not sure why selling to schools or senior photos would confuse things?
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 10:12 PM on 09.04.14
->> I've never had a problem selling pictures to parents and students, and my services have been promoted to them by various sports departments/coaches at times.

Years ago when I explained/cleared what I wanted to do with a compliance rep at the NCAA itself to make sure everyone's noses would stay clean, I was told that I could not offer discounts or give photos away because that could be construed as illegal gifting. This -- as it turns out -- is good for me because it guarantees that I get a full price for my work.

Another hoop though is making sure who you sell to and why. Selling to the parent or athlete directly is fine. However, if someone else not directly related to them wants to buy a photo to give to the student as a gift, that creates a gray area which could be viewed the wrong way in the eyes of the NCAA. While I still charged full price, the fact that my work was given as a favor could raise some gifting concerns; and could cast a bad light on me by being a participant. As such, I have turned down sales. Losing a few dollars a couple times a year keeps my nose clean and more importantly protects athlete eligibility.

So selling photos is not so cut and dry.
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Mike Janes, Photographer
Attica | NY | USA | Posted: 3:45 AM on 09.05.14
->> Being someone that's worked in compliance, though not extensively, I'm not sure that's correct Doug. It'd be one thing if you gave it to someone that in turn gave it as a gift to an athlete and were basically using them as a loophole to give them a gift, but it's not the same if they buy it and give it to the athlete. If that was the case then a friend couldn't buy them dinner, a soda, concert tickets, nothing at all. Went through a very similar case when being recruited and when working in an athletic department (masters is athletic administration) that exact case is something brought up with compliance and was told very simply that it's absolutely not a violation. In fact do believe one could argue the fact you're only allowing certain people to buy could be a privilege to the athlete and cause a violation. Now you may lose credentials selling to non athletes and their family, but that's an entirely different scenario.
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 10:52 AM on 09.05.14
->> Mike...

I accidently deleted a vital sentence before posting. What's missing was the third-party buyer/gift giver being a booster club, sponsor, etc. type person -- similar to one who buys an athlete a new automobile. In this case the photographer doesn't want to be the car dealer who knowingly participates -- key word knowingly. And most of those times the person improperly worded their intent. Once I explain possible eligibility problems things are worked out, including sometimes checking with the compliance rep as a double check. And when that happens everything usually goes forward with the rep being thankful for watching out for the athlete. While going to the school may not be necessary, involving him/her if there is any doubt is a matter of professional courtesy and trust building.

Sorry about that.

When it comes to providing services I've always found it to be better to be conservative for the long run. While the NCAA rules are standardized, how they are interpreted by the compliance officers at different schools can be vary widely. Over the past four decades I've run into a few school reps whose standard answer was initially no because that is as conservative as one could get. But with some conversation and understanding hurdles can be overcomed. Just keep one thing in mind. It isn't about you, it isn't about the buyer, it isn't about the school; it is about the athlete and what is best for him/her.
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Tim Cowie, Photographer, Photo Editor
Davidson | NC | USA | Posted: 10:59 AM on 09.05.14
->> A lot of information here, some of it correct, some of it is very far from the truth.

You can buy and sell to anyone you want. There is no police going to come after you......wait....let me finish before everyone jumps on me. However, doing so, will most likely lead to you never being credentialed by that school or other conference schools ever again. As well, if you really pissed them off, your name will get passed on to the NCAA and they won't credential you for any of their championships DI, DII or DIII. So, that being said - DON'T DO IT!

Essentially, you need to be credentialed and/or approved to shoot the event by the host school - that means different things for different schools and different levels of play (DI BCS school is going to be very strict in giving a credential and a DIII school may be very open and happy that someone is willing to cover their teams).

As far as selling photos to players, families, etc. You better have permission to be an official photographer and licensee for that school or the above mentioned wrath will fall upon you. IF this occurs, you can sell or give your photos away - again, no police are going to sneak up on you, but if you don't sell your photos at the "market" price and you sell or give a photo away below market price to an athlete or their family member - that athlete has received an "extra benefit" and would have to report the incident to the NCAA and face NCAA penalty (potentially losing some or all of their eligibility). Again, you can do whatever you want, but the school, conference and NCAA is not going to be happy that you put their athlete(s) and family in that situation - again the above mentioned wrath will fall upon you.

Again, assuming you are considered an official photographer for that school and have permission to sell photos at "market" prices (non-commercial sales), the next question is what is "market" value/price? Who knows, as the NCAA doesn't say specifically, but $6.00 - 4x6, $10 - 5x7 and $15- 8x10 would be a safe bet to start. This also means you have to sell digital downloads at "market" price and can't simply email a copy to someone for free.

BTW - if you were shooting school A and school B. School A gives you permission to shoot and sell photos. This does not mean you can sell photos from that game of school B.

At the end of the day, it's not like you are going to get arrested for not doing the above - you just won't have a long career shooting college athletics if you try to do an end around.

Because I could write pages and pages about this, I am sure something will be missed or misinterpreted, but hopefully you will get the idea.

The above comes from years of various experience, so take it as you will. I have photo contracts (along with photo sales license) with a number of DI schools. I coached DI-DIII for over 25 years as well as serving administratively (with compliance background) at these institutions. As well, I have served on a number of NCAA committees including a number of years on sport rules committees. Not trying to boast, just trying to give you an idea where my info is based from.
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Tim Cowie, Photographer, Photo Editor
Davidson | NC | USA | Posted: 11:06 AM on 09.05.14
->> Let me add - especially in light of the Ed O'Bannon ruling - schools are very wary of letting you sell anything (for any reason). I would highly suggest that the following 2 things happen minimally before you consider selling photos of college athletes.

1. You have a written and signed contract saying you are the "official" photographer and you have been granted permission to sell on their behalf.

2. That the compliance director has had every athlete sign the waiver granting the school to use their "likeliness" for media and other purposes. Most schools do this at the beginning of each season, but this is not guaranteed. My contract schools are now adding a specific line granting photo sales.

Last, I hope you have a good insurance policy (Hill & Usher, etc) that protects your butt.
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 11:41 AM on 09.05.14
->> Double ditto to Tim's posts.

Market value pricing (no discounts), dotting your i's and crossing your t's on every level, permissions, etc. are all essential for continued success.

And just as you can sell or give away photos to anyone, you can also drive faster and more wrecklessly than anyone ever could, jump the fence at the White House buck naked, etc. Just be sure you enjoy the moment because it will be the last time you do so.
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Mike Janes, Photographer
Attica | NY | USA | Posted: 5:02 PM on 09.05.14
->> Doug, yes it'd be a bit different if it was something like that and you knew they were giving it to the athlete as a gift, however if they bought it for their personal use and then gave it as a gift without you knowing that would change things.

Tim, do agree on the market value comments as that exact situation happened when working with a compliance director of 30+ years (actually he's approaching 40 now), a parent asked for a discount because they were a poor family and simply was not allowed to give it to them. Told them that and took it to him just to make sure and basically it was market value is what you charge everyone, not a certain price or price range, but if you charge x-amount for youth and high school the NCAA photos better be in the same ballpark.

One thing that I think may confuse people though is saying you always need permission to sell to athletes and parents, that's not entirely true. In the case of the OP where his primary function is to sell prints to parents then obviously you need permission or risk never being credentialed again, and would wonder how you got one in the first place. However, if a athlete/parent asks to buy a photo they see online or in the newspaper you do not need to go and get permission from the school or anyone to sell it to them. Obviously different scenarios but someone reading may think it's across the board when it's not that.
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Tim Cowie, Photographer, Photo Editor
Davidson | NC | USA | Posted: 11:18 AM on 09.06.14
->> Mike....first define "online". Second, technically a newspaper shouldn't sell their photos of college athletes online either. At the end of the day, the recourse for the school and the NCAA is that they withhold credentials. When it relates to the local or regional paper, schools could care less and are not going to enforce this because no one wants to deny media attention to their program (unless you live in South Florida).

However, when it comes to others (and since your livelihood is based on access) they hold the upper hand. I know one school that has two Cease and Desist orders out now.
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Tim Cowie, Photographer, Photo Editor
Davidson | NC | USA | Posted: 11:27 AM on 09.06.14
->> As a side note, many compliance directors don't know the rules that well, especially at smaller schools (and when it relates to obscure photography bylaws, etc. - which btw are very few but other bylaws that relate to "extra benefits", etc come into play). They assume based on wrong information or a misunderstanding of bylaws and grant/deny access based on this.

Case in point. UConn has 4 compliance people and is a major DI school who has dealt with a number of high profile bylaw infractions, etc.

Geno Auriemma (women's basketball coach) asked permission was his compliance department if he could give a congratulatory call to Mo'Ne Davis (World Little League star) based on her admiration of UConn basketball.

His compliance staff said yes. He did. The NCAA just hit him with a violation. UConn was wrong.

We could rant about the NCAA for days, but trust me, photographers, SID departments and even their own compliance officers have little to no knowledge of what the correct bylaws are as it relates to photography. The NCAA can tell you....usually when it's too late.
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Michael Okoniewski, Photographer
Syracuse | NY | USA | Posted: 11:53 AM on 09.06.14
->> For what it's worth, Syracuse University's site host, SideArm, as of late last year, has stopped offering still photos of athletes online.

The public, nor families, not student athletes, can purchase nor receive any photos or files. It is in part, because of this:

The photos are posted online as a view only photo gallery.
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Mike Janes, Photographer
Attica | NY | USA | Posted: 3:07 PM on 09.06.14
->> Tim, you keep mixing credentialing and compliance, of course if the school doesn't want you selling prints they can deny a credential and that has absolutely nothing to do with compliance. Sending out cease and desist letter is a common practice even if no law is being broken, we've seen this from major sports organizations doing it as a threat with no legal options actually available, many times it's used as a scare tactic.

Calling Mo'Ne was more difference of interpretation, the compliance office thought since she was not in the recruiting age set forth in the guidelines that it would be OK since the call was not about recruitment, but a congratulations. When you look at it that way it's within the bylaws, however when you look at it by the NCAA definition you can see why they called it a violation. She is an elite athlete who has said she wants to play basketball at UConn publicly, that falls under special circumstances and changes things a bit. If they had called some third string 7th grader who had no chance of ever playing college ball who said the same, or say a child with a disability, then there'd be no violation more than likely. Though with the NCAA you never know!

Making that phone call and a constitutionally protected right are a bit different. I'm not sure what examples are out there saying newspapers should technically not be selling prints either, but do know there's a few (IHSA for one) that say the exact opposite. Are there any legal rulings saying a newspaper should not be selling prints, or that athletes can not buy a personal use image? If an athlete googles themselves and finds a photo online, be it with a news article, a portfolio or even an archive like Getty or AP, they are fully able to buy a print from whomever has the right to sell it with no violation at all according to law and NCAA rules.

The lawsuit happening will be interesting because it could determine how they sell them, the licensing model used, the usage of names, selling photos on products, etc. Some will overreact and take their photo site down (NCAA store is active), others may just change how they do things by getting releases signed by all athletes, there's a lot of scenarios. However, in a lawsuit like that you go after everything and everyone to see what sticks! Just bringing the suit doesn't make it illegal, but you always throw the hail Mary and hope.
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Tim Cowie, Photographer, Photo Editor
Davidson | NC | USA | Posted: 5:42 PM on 09.07.14
->> Mike - I am not mixing credentials and compliance. Schools have the responsibility of making sure their athletes are protected via the NCAA Bylaws. Selling photos without being an authorized representative of the school is an NCAA violation (we can argue whether the schools should be selling them or not in another discussion).

The only recourse for when a photographer or organization chooses not to adhere to these NCAA Bylaws is to deny credentials for that photographer or their organization. A Cease and Desist order has a number of ways to be effective. In that order, you can tell the photographer to stop selling the photos (basically a warning shot across the bow) or something will happen. Usually in these cases the penalty for not adhering to the request is that the photographer/organization will not be granted credentials for that school (and potentially any other conference schools as well as NCAA Championships).

A Cease and Desist order does not require someone be sued to be effective. As an example - try shooting SEC football on a SEC credential and selling your photos online. You won't be shooting SEC football games very long.

Do what you want, I am just giving you my opinion.
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Mike Janes, Photographer
Attica | NY | USA | Posted: 8:54 PM on 09.07.14
->> Tim, you're going to have to point out these bylaws, where they are and exactly what they say. No offense but in this thread you said twice people who think they know, i.e. compliance departments, do not always know the rules themselves so without actually seeing what you're referring to how could anyone take your opinion as fact?

Now, I'm not advocating selling or for anyone to go "do what you want". As we all know credential agreements differ and you should abide by them or you risk losing your credentials, however these are media regulations depicted by the leagues/schools and have absolutely nothing to do with compliance/NCAA violations.
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Thread Title: Sell individual photos of NCAA Players
Thread Started By: David Hague
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