NPPA Supports AP's Decision To Dispute LPGA Golf Credentials

 The Associated Press is reporting from Kapolei, Hawaii, that they have been refused credentials to cover the Ladies Professional Golf Association Fields Open golf tournament in an ongoing dispute over new credential restrictions on use of its stories and photographs. This morning the National Press Photographers Association voiced support for AP’s refusal to agree to the LPGA’s new credential requirements.

AP says that reporter Jaymes Song and photographer Ronen Zilberman (an NPPA member since 1998) were not allowed on the course to cover practice rounds or access to the media room after refusing to sign an LPGA credential form that contained new restrictions. One of the restrictions AP objects to is that photographers, by signing the form, agree that the LPGA has an unlimited, perpetual right to use their photographs for free.

AP has refused to agree with the terms required by the credential consent form and, as a result, will not be covering the tournament. NPPA supports the decision by AP and any other media organization that decides to not cover the event due to the credential requirements, NPPA’s president said today.

“The National Press Photographers Association fully supports the decision of the Associated Press and any other media outlets that refuse to cover the upcoming Fields Open LPGA tournament in Hawaii due to the onerous credential terms the LPGA has presented as a condition for coverage,” NPPA president Alicia Wagner Calzada said.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin has also refused to sign the credential form because of the new restrictions, and told its readers in today's newspaper that they would not cover the tournament because of the LPGA's new policies. "The LPGA would require us to let them use our photos forever, for free," said Star-Bulletin editor Frank Bridgewater in today's edition, "and we would have to ask its permission if we wanted to use our own photos in the future."

Bridgewater also said that under the terms of the new credential agreement, the LPGA would be able to use the paper's stories at no charge forever, and would force the paper to gather all releases needed - covering such areas as copyrights, trademarks, right of publicity and right of privacy - whenever the LPGA chose to use Star-Bulletin material. "We will not sign a form that places limits on how we can use our own photos, or that allow others to have any control over our stories," the newspaper reports Bridgewater saying.

NPPA's Calzada said, “It is extremely unreasonable and unprofessional for any event organizer, sports or otherwise, to claim rights to images taken by media organizations covering that event. Journalists must not be bullied into turning over their rights as a condition of coverage. Furthermore, it is inappropriate for the LPGA to attempt to gain usage of photographs that they did not pay for. The restrictions on future uses are also unacceptable for a news organization and would severely limit the ability to properly cover the sport on an ongoing basis."

“If the terms are not changed to represent an appropriate agreement between event organizers and those who cover it, we encourage other news organizations to join those who have already refused to cover this event.” Several local news organizations and TV stations have apparently signed the agreement and are continuing to cover the tournament.

In a wire bulletin on Wednesday, AP informed its members that it would not provide photographic coverage of the LPGA tournament this weekend. AP sent members this advisory: "Photo Editors and Sports Editors - Due to restrictions on photo usage imposed when signing the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) photo credential application, The Associated Press will not be able to provide photo coverage from this weekend's golf tournament in Hawaii. We are in discussions with the LGPA and will advise if the situation changes. The AP."

In an AP story about the credential dispute, AP sports editor Terry Taylor said, "Any stories and photos produced by AP staffers belong to AP. We cannot accept this attempt by the LPGA to put such severe limits on AP's editorial use of its own work, and we can't accept any demand that AP provide free use of its material as a condition for being allowed to cover an event."