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IFJ condemns Rugby World Cup plan to control photographers

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a 4 September 2007 press release of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), an IFJ regional group:

EFJ Condemns Rugby World Cup Plan to Control Photographers

Today the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the European group of the International Federation of Journalists, condemned a plan by the International Rugby Board (IRB) to limit the rights of photographers covering the sport's World Cup, which opens this Friday in France.

"The sport business, just like show business, strips off journalists' rights by threatening basic rights such as authors' rights and access to public events", said EFJ Chair Arne König. "It's not acceptable that a sports organisation only gives media accreditations to certain journalists who give the IRB control over their work. We had similar experiences during the Olympic Games and during the Football World Cup last year. We strongly oppose this attitude and we will defend our rights".

The IRB plans to limit the circulation of the photographs of the rugby matches during the World Cup to certain press agencies who will only be allowed to publish and sell the photos if they abide by strict rules. The IRB will only allow approved agencies to publish a maximum of 50 photos per game (20 for each half and 5 for each overtime), which will be circulated only to the agencies' clients. In this way, the IRB will be able to control all the published images of the event by imposing these restrictions on news photographers.

A coalition has been created between journalists unions, press agencies AFP, AP, Reuters, DPA and Getty and some daily newspapers in order to fight this theft of their rights.

The EFJ supports this coalition. During its last General Meeting in Zagreb in March 2007, EFJ members adopted Guidelines for Photographers's Accreditation to Major Events. The guidelines provide that the only restrictions imposed on photo-journalists should be only their own ethical principles and that their right to work must not be compromised by pressure to sign any contract which deprives them of their authors' rights.

The EFJ calls on the French government to ensure that the IRB respects French law, which recognizes the right to information and authors' rights. In particular, the EFJ asks the Minister for Sports to intervene at her earliest convenience to request that the IRB stops making money from the work of professional journalists.

EFJ members in France are considering calling on journalists accredited for the World Cup to show their solidarity with their photographer colleagues by boycotting the event. Similar boycotts have already taken place in other countries for the tours of musical artists who were pressuring photographers to sign away their rights.

The EFJ represents over 250,000 journalists in more than 30 countries.

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