The face-off between the media and the Board of Control for Cricket in India, or BCCI, over the rules for photographic and online coverage of the first ever DLF Indian Premier League, or IPL, throws up very vexing questions for which there are no pat answers. And this is regardless of how the dispute is eventually resolved.
To recap, the dispute was triggered because the rules, released on Thursday, require that media photographers, accredited to cover the event, sign off their copyrights. It is also not the first occasion for such a conflict. Cricket Australia, BCCI’s Australian counterpart, had last year made a similar demand ahead of the Test series between the host country and Sri Lanka. They eventually backed down following resistance from the media.
Essentially, the underlying principle in both instances is the same. Seeking to maximize their revenues, the cricket authorities in both countries want to monetize every aspect of the game. On the face of it, say legal observers, this argument cannot be faulted. Especially since it is a privately organized event, for which entry is based only on tickets.
Yet, going down this path is questionable. For those unable to witness the event, especially those who cannot afford to pay for entry, the media, including print publications, is the only alternative. In other words, the public would lose out if the face-off is not resolved amicably. This would be a disaster given the cult following of cricket in the subcontinent in general and India in particular.
Further, the question arises: How does one fix the monetary value of a photograph published in the media? Not only does the circulation vary across newspapers and magazines, alternative platforms such as the Internet queer such an estimate even further.
In all likelihood, there would be a compromise. It may not be the end of the matter, though. The fact that BCCI pushed its case, despite the fact that Cricket Australia had backed down less than six months ago, suggests that the issue will return. It will be in fairness to all parties concerned that both sides debate the matter thoroughly. Else the conflict may arise again— at the cost of sports viewers.
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