Tuesday, March 17, 2009

An inquiry set up by the Australian Senate will decide where footage taken at sporting events can run.

“The potential precedents for this are enormous,” said the head of a major news agency. “This will set a global benchmark — it has been coming to a head for a long time.”

The inquiry was set up off the back of a feud between sporting organisations and media outlets over the use of footage, some of which was uploaded to YouTube, and photos taken at sporting events. It will also look at whether companies who own broadcast rights can get a commercial return by limiting the use of their footage.

Agence France-Presse, Reuters and Australian Associated Press boycotted the Australian cricket season because Cricket Australia required them to sign documents restricting the use of photos and video footage they [AFP, Reuters and AAP] collected. Journalists working for Fairfax Media and News Limited were almost banned from covering the 2006-07 Ashes Series after their respective organisations refused to sign accreditation documents. The issue was resolved.

“This is a matter that has been of immense concern to the media all over the world and control over access to events is being used to control access to images,” said Chris Warren, secretary of the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA). He said that many Australians were unaware of how agreements were limiting their access to sports coverage.

A Wikinews reporter was able to get accreditation for the 2008-09 A-League Finals series. The reporter captured video footage and photos with his own camera. The video footage used was released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike and GNU Free Documentation License copyright licenses.

The debate over video footage has centred on “fair use” provisions in Australian copyright laws. The laws allow a small amount of video owned by some one else for the purpose of news reporting online.