When is a football game not a public event?

When it’s hosted by an SEC school trying to squeeze every drop of revenue out of it, of course.

So sayeth the Attorney General of Tennessee, anyway.

May a public institution of higher education, supported by taxes paid by citizens of Tennessee, give approval to an agreement that would restrict the rights of the press and public to use material that is gained at a public event for public dissemination?

Yes. A Tennessee public institution of higher education may take any legal measures that are intended to protect its rights under copyright law to photographs or other visual representations arising from athletic events involving its athletic teams. These events are not “public events.” A member of the press must agree to the terms and conditions of the press credential policies in order to gain admittance and take photographs or video images of the event. The press credential policy of UT reserves the rights of UT and the SEC to images from athletic events in a variety of ways, and thereby limits the use and dissemination of photographs, video, and other representations, based upon copyright law, trademark law, and other legal principles.

Needless to say, local media ain’t happy with that call.

… At the root of the issue is money.

Like the professional sports leagues, universities are coming to see sports media content as product to be marketed and sold. As a result, the day may come when independent media coverage of sporting events will no longer be allowed access, and the university will become a media conglomerate in addition to a sports-entertainment franchise.

If that happens, an organization such as the News Sentinel will have to operate outside of events and make its niche as an unauthorized alternative to the government-run coverage.

Alarmingly far-fetched?  Maybe.  (Although UT is the school that charged the media to attend one of this past spring scrimmages.)  In any event, even if you’re not a particular fan of the media, it can’t be a good thing from a fan perspective if access is limited to those who are willing to pay for it.  Or if the schools restrict what can be covered in the first place…

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5 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness

5 responses to “When is a football game not a public event?

  1. Ralph

    The only thing the TN papers should report on after the first game is the score and nothing else. UTK will probably rethink their policy if they aren’t getting the press.

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  2. The quickly eroding facade which is ‘amateur athletics’ bothers me. I’ve already given up pro sports and can foresee the day where I stop giving money to watch college FB as well as both leagues will essentially be the same.

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  3. Curc

    This is no different then that of the direction the national non sports related media is going. With Fox, NBC, CNN, etc. becoming nothing more than for profit “fiction”, it is only a matter of time before we only get the “information” those who are funding the entity wants us to get. Sports will be not different.

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  4. No One Knows You're a Dawg

    The UT AD continues to show himself to be Dave Braine dumb.

    Derek Dooley better be very successful, very quick, because the media up there isn’t going to cut that program any breaks.

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  5. Dog in TN

    The Univ of Tn charged a fee to coaches attending the practice. The media that paid that fee also were allowed to attend the practice. The charge was not to the media per se. It was for anyone attending that practice. Not a Tn fan, but let’s get the facts straight.

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