Southeastern Conference Wants To 'Control Memories' Of Sporting Events; Limits Reporters & Fans

from the good-luck-with-that dept

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…

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Comments on “Southeastern Conference Wants To 'Control Memories' Of Sporting Events; Limits Reporters & Fans”

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50 Comments
sehlat (profile) says:

Tank McNamara Predicted This

They had a series of strips several years ago where a sports team got a new owner who wanted a “revenue flash flood” and planned to put little boxes for quarters next to the water coolers so that anybody who discussed “his team” would put in a quarter for the privilege the discussion.

“It’ll be on the honor system.” (long pause) “At first.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Mike, you just don’t get it.

As there is more and more pressure to make everything free, open, available, and without cost, the other side will push back harder and harder.

The “landgrab” you think you are seeing is nothing compared to the massive amounts of information, data, and product that the “FREE!” side has snarfed up in the last few years. Heck, they have all but swallowed the entire music business, made newspapers into buggy whip businesses, and so on.

So in many ways, the more stuff slips over the abyss, the more the ones on the cliff will try to solidfy their positions.

As a side note, sporting events are private events, and the terms and conditions of a ticket are more than likely enforcible. Will they? I don’t think they will. But they are putting it out there to specifically block off the non-media media who will buy a seat and try to report like that.

hegemon13 says:

Re: Re:

“The “landgrab” you think you are seeing is nothing compared to the massive amounts of information, data, and product that the “FREE!” side has snarfed up in the last few years.”

That you see the spread of information and data as a bad thing is quite telling. Product, maybe, but the spread of information is essential to progress.

“Heck, they have all but swallowed the entire music business, made newspapers into buggy whip businesses, and so on.”

The music industry is fine. The physical recording business is the one in trouble, and has nothing to do with this sporting event. Nice try, though.

Newspapers are a buggy whip business because they, like buggy whips, are obsolete. The so-called “FREE!” movement, which does not even exist as you describe it, did not hurt newspapers; the simple advancement of technology and expansion of communication took care of that.

“As a side note, sporting events are private events, and the terms and conditions of a ticket are more than likely enforcible.”

No, they won’t be. The terms and conditions are on the ticket itself, meaning they aren’t available until AFTER the non-refundable transaction. That makes it an unenforceable contract.

AC's long lost brother/cousin/father says:

Re: Re: Re:

“As a side note, sporting events are private events, and the terms and conditions of a ticket are more than likely enforcible.”

I don’t agree with that at all. Private means only a select list decided by the host of the event (whatever it is). Tickets to sporting events are available (for purchase) to ANYONE. That, my friend, is the definition of PUBLIC. I invite friends to my house = PRIVATE. I SELL tickets to a party at my house to anyone willing to spend $100K = PUBLIC.

The Infamous Joe (profile) says:

Re: Re:

As there is more and more pressure to make everything free, open, available, and without cost, the other side will push back harder and harder.

So, one side demands to allow an infinite good to be infinitely available, and the other side wants to control my memories.

You’re so right, that seems perfectly reasonable.

Heck, they have all but swallowed the entire music business, made newspapers into buggy whip businesses, and so on.

By “they” do you mean “technological advances in computing power and data transfer”? Or maybe “Increased efficency in ad-based marketing”?

It’s not a group of people with a similar mindset that these people fear, it’s being displaced from their seats of power due to advances in technology. They are fighting *the future*, and they are doomed to lose.

So in many ways, the more stuff slips over the abyss, the more the ones on the cliff will try to solidfy their positions.

The abyss being the public domain? The place our founders expected everything to end up for the good of *everyone* after a *finite* amount of time? That abyss?

As a side note, sporting events are private events, and the terms and conditions of a ticket are more than likely enforcible.

Yes, they can throw you out or bar you from entering, but they can’t take away your rights. Especially since you buy the ticket before you read the back, they’d be throwing money away to stop me from taking a picture, because I’d demand a refund. That’s a swell idea– piss off paying fans. Oh, no, you’re right, that’s pretty much how things are done these days.

But they are putting it out there to specifically block off the non-media media who will buy a seat and try to report like that.

Non-media media? Seriously? Oh, the people they haven’t given a press pass? A press pass is not authorization to report, it’s much like a backstage pass, it simply allows the wearer to go into places not open to the general public. The media is the media with or without a backstage pass.

I really don’t understand why you’re all onboard for anything that is attempting to control your memories of an event. How much of a drone can you be not just to accept it, but to actually *defend* it?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

how is this guy a troll? everything he says is correct.

besides, the license agreement on the ticket is not about owning intellectual property, but about contract rights.

if the attendance agreement printed in size 4 font on the back of your ticket says you’re not allowed to do X, Y, and Z, odds are, most courts will still prohibit you from doing X, Y, and Z, so long as you agreed to those terms… even if it’s far beyond what intellectual property protects. they’ll look to whether the terms are unconscionable, violate consumer protection regulations, violate antitrust, or fail to form a valid contract, and if they do any of these, fans will be in the clear.

regardless, the damages are only going to be contract damages rather than IP damages… and you actually have to prove damages in contracts suits. there’s no way that the SEC will be able to prove you damaged them by tweeting the score of the game.

Jeff T (profile) says:

I’d be interested to know what kind of influence ESPN/CBS had in enacting this policy. The SEC feels it has a product to protect, but this gives ESPN and CBS a near monopoly on highlights of the countries premier college football conference.

It’s very similar to NBC’s purchase of the Sunday Night NFL highlights, which forced ESPN to moveback it’s Sunday Night Countdown show because it could no longer show the extended highlight packs it used to

Pete Austin says:

From: A Sea Of Blue Online Home of the Big Blue Nation: U of Kentucky Wildcats

  1. Media Creds can only be issued to full-time salaried employees of accredited media institutions.
  2. No audio or video may be transmitted of the event within 72 hours of the event, except for television newscasts. And those clips must be shorter than 3 minutes.
  3. Highlights cannot be placed online or transmitted through any “new media” medium (e.g. cell phones, PDAs, etc.).
  4. No “real time” updates of any form.
  5. Media Credentialed personnel may take pictures to use in their stories.
  6. Media cannot sell the pictures they take.
  7. Radio stations cannot use live commentary in game updates without prior permission.
  8. http://www.aseaofblue.com/2009/8/11/984464/sec-media-gestapo

Anonymous Coward says:

The future of greedy sports leagues

Honestly, I wonder when they’ll mandate everybody who watches a sporting event to have their memory wiped clean with that red-light shooting device like in the movie “Men in Black.”

After the Big Sports League Memory Officer wipes your memory with the red-light thingie, you can have your memory of the sporting event back for the low price of $29.95. And remember, you’re not allowed to talk to anybody else about it unless they’ve paid the $29.95 also.

Then again, maybe I shouldn’t post such sarcasm…because I don’t want to give these greedy money-worshippers any ideas. It’s not impossible that the day could come that sports leagues mandate somebody attending an event not talk about it to ANYONE unless they pay for a license to do so. After all, how else will sports owners afford stadiums that come with a $2 billion pricetag, and how else will a crybaby primadonna get his $45 million a year to run around a field?

Anonymous Coward says:

Steve

It’s amazing to me how when Mike posts a common sense article about something asinine in society, there is always at least a few nut jobs who crawl out of the woodwork to attack and discredit Mike and his opinions. There are obviously paid shills commenting on Techdirt on behalf of the RIAA, MPAA, AP, etc… Reading some of these trolls/shills posts is like the theater of the absurd. I’m sorry, but if you think that the SEC trying to control memories of a game is legal and reasonable then you need to disappear and reappear in hell holding a can of gas and a match.

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