Policies, Copyrights, and Derby Photographers

Ok, we’ve all seen those crazy photo agreements for tournaments and some leagues that demand all the photos from the photographers who come through the door.

In the music world, the photographers wouldn’t show up if those agreements were in place. The fans and their cell phones will be the only photos. Of course that’s ok. At some point the musician can afford to produce photos to be released for press or on the social media outlets. The future/presently growing trend will have the musician and photographers working out deals. Besides, with out going into a lot of technical details there happen to be some high end point and shoot cameras that are just as good as any pro camera.

A photographer owns the photos made. The camera used is irrelevant. So, the issue should be more focused on allowing them in to the event. A good team policy on developing team photographers will help understand needs and the process.

1. Paid admission. A photographer pays to get in and can go where everyone is supposed to go. This can include those new to derby, fans, professionals looking for a new market, or derby photographers visiting a league. Suicide seating is still a prime location for photos.

2. Sponsors. They paid or offer services for the team, and packages will range depending on the league. Access and admission is part of the deal negotiated.

3. Hired professionals. The team has hired someone to make photos or video.

4. A player invites a photographer. This can be any combination of photographer coming through the door.

And all these can have far more varying degrees of amateur to professional photographers. Some pros like to shoot derby for pay or even just as a fan. Some amateurs shoot for pay or as fans.

So what happens is that generally any one with a camera with a removable lens gets to see a photo release to sign. And those who do, wonder why since there are some pricey point-and-shoot cameras that shoot just as good photos as any other pro camera. Some pros shoot with disposable cameras, others with film cameras with a single fixed lens. Not only that, but cell phones are every where. They own their photo copyrights too. How is a photo release just for a removable lens fair?

A derby photographer can be any one with a camera that is committed to the sport. Keep that in mind when developing a photo policy. A team’s photo policy should be focused on the equipment such as flashes, where photographers are allowed depending on admission, and other logistics of the facility and team. A photo release should just be about the photos. Of course to save paper and the environment, it could be one form together. A photographer will focus on just the release part since everything else changes.

Legal advice will be best for a photo release. But consider that photographers don’t give up photo copyrights without compensation.

It would be best for a league to find a way to convince the photographer to share the photos with out demanding them. Remember, a pro who sells photos or is providing a service just wants to make a living. Amateurs and hobbyists may not be able to meet the demands or time lines a league requires of them. And of course, a league will want a variety of photographers to help promote the sport on a variety of levels.

A derby team will want photos. So why not work with your photographers and show them some derby love.

Tournaments will attract a variety of photographers. Of course some photographers will be there to shoot and sell photos. Others will be wanting to get a magazine or even a blog to notice a photo. Some will be documenting the event. And of course fans will be photographing just about anything. So, when making a photo policy agreement, consider that there are a variety of shooters to cover the event.


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