Photographers’ fury as British Basketball Federation demand free images

Picture credit: Mansoor Ahmed

The British Basketball Federation has been accused of an astonishing attempt to wrestle copyright away from photographers through its own match accreditation process.

Photographers at the forthcoming women’s international friendly between Great Britain and Canada in Manchester have been told they will only be given credentials if they agree to provide the governing body with copies of their images without any payment fee.

It comes weeks after the BBF trimmed the role of team photographer in a budget-cutting exercise. Mansoor Ahmed, who had been contracted in the role for the past decade, is thought to be considering legal action after being left with a sizeable expenses bill in the wake of arranging his travel to a number of GB games on foreign soil in advance of the abrupt move.

In a list of Terms and Conditions published on its media accreditation site, the federation states “the photographer shall, on request from BBF, provide copies of selected photographs or film taken by him/her for internal display, promotional use in the BBF publications and on the BBF official website at no charge. All pictures / film extracts where possible will be bylined.”

The rules also prohibit photographers from reporting any scoring information to third parties for use on a “premium telephone results line, internet site service or social media platform” and state, somewhat curiously, that “photographers are responsible for the removal of any litter they create in photo positions.” 

A demand that the images taken can be used by the BBF without charge is simply unacceptable

Both the Basketball Journalists Association and the AIPS Basketball Commission have decried the attempt to poach copyright and urged members to explicitly decline the rights clauses.

“The policy has certainly concerned a number of photographers and journalists, including myself,” BJA secretary John Hobbs said. “A demand that the images taken can be used by the BBF without charge is simply unacceptable. A simple media requirement such as access to phone calls with editors during the game has also been prohibited under these regulations.

“Unfortunately for coverage of basketball in this country, it seems that a media credential is considered as a free ticket and it opens the door for hobbyists to apply, leaving dedicated photo journalists in the cold and unable to work. However, we are hopeful for a solution to the impasse and that it can be resolved quickly.”

When asked if they would alter their terms in the wake of the widespread criticism, the BBF declined to respond.