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Is it infringement to sell NFL photos I took w/ my own camera?

Discussion in 'Copyright, Trademark, Patent Law' started by amasters, Sep 20, 2010.

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  1. amasters

    amasters Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Can anyone tell me whether I need the NFL's permission to sell photos of NFL players I took w/ my own camera during the game? I would sell these for a profit.
     
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  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Great question. This is Law Professor's area of expertise. He will provide a definitive answer in due course.

    I would advise against doing this, not because of the NFL, but because of privacy concerns of the individual players.

    It is my recollection that NFL ticket stubs (or ticket contract) prohibits any rebroadcast or use of the game or players for private gain.

    Let's see what the Professor has to say!
     
  3. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    I don't think you would get away with it for very long. Once your photos surfaced (I would suspect on eBay or something of the like) you would promptly be shut down.

    You could certainly take your photographs and make them gifts, but selling them for profit is money out of the pocket of that NFL team, and they won't like that very much.
     
  4. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    From my knowledge, all sports leagues will exploit every penny they can from their product. The ticket policy that anyone entering the ballpark (which is sometimes contained in highly questionable inclusions that may appear at the stadium) is what governs what you can and cannot do at a game. From what I know, the terms of the ticket are the purchase and sale contract terms and they prohibit the sale of photographs that may be taken at a game by a fan. So why can you buy pictures from other sources? Because of agreements the sports team may have with the press, private photographers, etc. and would include the team being paid.

    In addition to ticket policies, there may also be rights of publicity that a player may have that could prevent fans from selling pictures they took of players. There may also be questions of trademark law that could be asked but it's not really the determining factor in what prevents sports fans from selling pictures they took at a baseball game, basketball game, football game with their own camera.

    While the way the information may be presented is unclear, but are you going to fight a case against you?

    http://mlb.mlb.com/nyy/ballpark/guide.jsp#Cameras and Video Equipment

    CAMERAS AND VIDEO EQUIPMENT
    Single-frame flash photography is permitted. Tripods, extended length zoom lenses, other professional camera equipment, movie cameras and any other video or audio recording equipment are not permitted in Yankee Stadium. Guests are not permitted to transmit or aid in transmitting any account, description, picture, video, audio, reproduction or other information about any games.

    There you have it. Personal pictures taken with a cheap, non-zoom camera are able to be taken without consent. However, "guests are not permitted to transmit.... picture... about any games" - this would be a prohibition against you selling your photos.

    There may be other explicit prohibitions although most of the ticket policies seem to contain only security policies and not the remaining portions of your contract of sale terms. I hope this answers your question.
     
  5. KCGirl

    KCGirl New Member

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    Just another reason on my already not short list of reasons to dislike professional ball teams. Where I live, the team owners (football and baseball) are quite wealthy. The players make a nice chunk of change too. How come, then, the city and county taxpayers are always paying for their stadium upgrades and re-do's? Reminds me of thee Story of the Little Red Hen, she asked all along the way if anyone would help her harvest the wheat, grind the wheat, bake the wheat into a nice hot loaf of bread. All were answered in the negative. Then, when she got to that last step of slicing the bread and handing it out (or chicken clawing it out) all those sorry lazy creatures were sent packing. Little Red Hen was no sucker, yannow, she knows a freeloader and opportunist when she sees one.

    Now the ball teams charge like $15 for a miserable hot dog (do you know whats in hot dogs, eww?) $10 for a coke, $25 or $30 to get (probably the cheap seats) in (that's a guess, never been and ain't going) etc. Highway robbery and the poor people who paid for their football/leather palaces can't afford to go, ain't that a bite?
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2010
  6. matt55

    matt55 New Member

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    I am not a lawyer and I don't know whether it is illegal or not and I can't give you any legal advice.

    You should ask a lawyer.
     
  7. nmbugs

    nmbugs New Member

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    According to what I was taught (I am a professional photographer) that this is. A huge no-no, when entering a concert, sports event, opera, anything paid to see, you are not supposed to have a camera. You can even have your camera confiscated at the door. It's very frustrating when people sneak in cameras to events for two reasons:

    1) photographers who have permission to photograph the event often have to BUY a permit, be subjected to a ton of paperwork and face to face interview. We expent time and money into securing the rights to the images to then have to compete with a person who sneaks their camera in and knowingly takes pictures for profit without going through the time and money we did to secure the rights to those images. With the way point and shoot cameras like the Canon SX 30is my son has, it makes it easier for people to invest next to nothing to get passable/sellable images with little investiment.

    2) this one is most important to me. When people sneak cameras in it makes it that much harder for us professional photographers to get the permission to shoot events. With digital cameras coming down in price almost anyone can afford a professional grade camera, whether they know how to use it or not is irrelevant because even a professional camera shoot auto. Getting venues to trust a photographer is getting harder and harder. For example, I specialize in macro (insects and spiders) however I love photographing models and events. In the model world we have a huge problem with what is called GWC which means "guy or perv with camera", this creep shows up to photograph pretty girls, hoping to get them to reveal more, to get his kicks. He has money to buy the professional gear but is hardly a professional. Many models are scared half to death to meet with those who have yet to really make a name for themselves in the field. Lucky for me I am a woman so this usually isn't a problem but many of my friends have to deal with it too much.

    When dealing with management at venues we have to prove we are professional photography, we get grilled and all but have to supply urine or blood to get the press pass. Even events like the big Pow Wows out west you cannot use the pictures for profit without getting and paying for the pass to do so. Some reservations strictly forbid any sale at all, being burned in the past by unprofessional photographers who would try to paint Native Americans in very poor light.

    Please remember your actions do not only effect you. Not only do you get pursued by very aggressive attorneys but you also effect us. Whenever there is a lawsuit somebody makes up for those attorney fees which usually means the cost of tickets or more likely cost of permit to photograph and profit goes up. It's not only you who loses in the end.

    Ps. I have know people who have tried to sneak cameras in only to have them confiscated, as I mentioned before, but then the camera gets "lost" and since the owner of the camera is violating the ticket you have no ability to "fight" to get it back or money to buy another. Others I have known not only got the camera stolen/lost but got kicked out of the event as well. However I am not a lawyer and the information I have provided is what I have been told by my lawyers and have read about photography rights, and I could be extremely incorrect. So tie it for what it's worth.
     
  8. nmbugs

    nmbugs New Member

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    Sorry for the broken sentences, I am posting from my iPad and sometimes I hit "." instead of "," and it makes me look like an idiot. Proof reading and correcting errors on the iPad is a pain so I never catch those errors and I am sorry for the mistakes.
     
  9. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    No worries nmbugs - You raise some great points. I remember back in the good old days when I sneaked my dual microphone stereo recorder into a James Taylor concert in the late 80s and early 90s. I thought that the audio was pretty good although obviously nowhere near as good as recording it through the mixing board. While still there is too much crowd noise, if you're in the right seat (for example, at the front), you can get a pretty good recording on a professional handheld device with the right microphone.

    But that pales in comparison to the way quality of photos went up. A small handheld camera now shoots 12MP or greater, with excellent digital zoom. While they are not a replacement for professional photos, they could easily be good enough to get the job done and be an alternative.

    And with regard to prosecution - the sports leagues are amongst the most vigilant to enforce copyright protection. I can tell you this from personal experience.
     

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