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Photographers Denied Access in Document Dilemma
Times-Picayune (New Orleans)

Several newspapers, including The Times-Picayune, were denied access to photograph the state girls high school basketball championships Monday night when they refused to sign a document limiting the right of newspapers to resell their photos to the public.

Many newspapers post expanded galleries of their photographs on their Web sites and offer prints for sale, often to family members.

The Louisiana High School Athletic Association now requires all photographers to sign a form allowing only photographs published on newsprint to be sold. Commissioner Tommy Henry said the LHSAA has an exclusive contract with Musemeche Photography to sell photos on the Internet.

A Times-Picayune photographer was in Hammond to photograph Mount Carmel Academy in its semifinal game against Southwood. Newspapers from Baton Rouge, Monroe, Hammond and Shreveport also were denied access when they refused to sign the form. Another round of tournament games is scheduled for tonight.

"We believe we have the right to decide what to do with our photographs," said Jim Amoss, editor of The Times-Picayune. "In our view, there is no difference whether we choose to publish a photo in print or on the Web."

While the issue has been bandied about for years, it came to a head just Monday.

"We were hoping to get a grace period and be able to work this out," said Pam Mitchell-Wagner, executive director of the Louisiana Press Association. "We look at this as a freedom of the press issue. We can't allow anyone to dictate how we cover an event."

"Obviously we object to this," said Kathy Spurlock, executive editor of the Monroe News-Star. "These are high school games, played in a public setting and open to the public. We are the representatives of the public and have a right to cover the event and use our material as we see fit."

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