Over the past few years, we've seen both MLB and especially the NFL try to limit
how reporters can report on sporting events. This is highly questionable, in a variety of ways. Obviously, the NFL has no legal right to limit how anyone reports on event, but it was effectively holding "access" over the head of the reporters. That is, any reporter that failed to live up to these "rules" would no longer get a press pass and access to the locker room or players. This seems designed to piss off reporters, and limit the actual publicity that a sports league gets. In the past, I've suggested that newspapers who are threatened with such rules should simply ignore the press passes and start buying
their reporters' tickets to report from the stands in protest.
Now, a whole bunch of people have been sending in the news that the Southeastern Conference (SEC) -- a college sporting division -- is now taking this concept to a whole new level
, limiting not just all kinds of reporting that can be done by reporters, but also on any fans attending the game (thanks to Jeff T
for sending this in first). The press will not be allowed to show more than 3 minutes of highlights -- all of which must be taken down within 72 hours. This includes not just the sporting event itself, but any press conferences related to the event (nice way to make embarrassing press conferences "disappear").
The much bigger issue, however, may be the attempt to stop fans from taking photos of, or discussing, a sporting event they attend. The conference will put a license agreement on the back of every ticket noting these rules -- which are almost entirely unenforceable. The buyers of the tickets will not have "agreed" to the policy and would likely have a strong argument in court that the license is invalid. On top of that, how insane is it that a sports conference is trying to stop fans from telling or showing others about a game?
Someone in the article explains the (somewhat obvious) reasoning behind these policies. The SEC (Southeastern Conference) is basically "protecting" the rights to sell TV broadcasting rights for huge sums, and it's afraid that others reporting on the events takes away from the value of it. That's wrong for a variety of reasons -- including the simple idea that limiting how people can find out about your sporting events doesn't make them more engaged, it makes them less engaged. That's less value for any big broadcast deal.
The second reason given in the article? The SEC "wants the ability to have full control of the memories that these events can generate." That's nice that it wants that. But it goes against pretty much everything the law says is protectable.
But, once again, welcome to "ownership society." With so many people pushing so hard for stronger and stronger intellectual property rights, you get massive landgrabs such as this one, that go well beyond legal protection rights, in an attempt to "control memories." That's just what Jefferson and others intended when they put "promote the progress" in the Constitution, I'm sure...