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...
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: control, fans, reporting, southeastern conference


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. icon
    Avatar28 (profile), 18 Aug 2009 @ 8:59pm

    let's see how serious they are...

    I'm thinking that maybe I should make it a point to go to an SEC game this fall, Vanderbilt, maybe, and tweet updates all the way through the game.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.