After months of acrimonious banter and legal maneuvering, the Illinois High School Association has agreed to abandon its efforts to control the states newspapers access to IHSA state championships and the use of photographs taken at those events.
In a court-sanctioned binding settlement announced Tuesday, IHSA and the Illinois Press Association agreed to four key points:
Newspapers are allowed unrestricted use and sale of images taken at IHSA events.
The IHSA retains the right to hire an official photographer, but that photographer will not have preferential access to events, except for training, promotional and educational purposes.
The IHSA may continue to credential newspaper representatives and establish shooting zones for safety purposes.
The press credentialing process will not be used to limit floor, field or site access for newspaper photographers.
In short, the press association through legal action and public opinion pressure forced the IHSA to abandon its position in which it attempted to ban newspaper photographers from state final events unless those photographers signed a waiver saying that they would not sell the photos or use them in any publications beyond the initial report of the event.
IPA rightly held that such a policy illegally interfered with the newspapers First Amendment rights to cover public events and subsequently use those photographs in whatever way they wished.
The settlement is a welcome and necessary resolution of IHSAs attempt to control the business of the states newspapers. The IHSA retains its right to hire its own official photographer to shoot the championship events and to sell photographs.
Its just too bad that the IHSA bureaucrats forced their organization and the press association to spend thousands of dollars on legal fees to resolve what was all along an ill-conceived and illegal power grab by IHSA.
Now the states newspapers can get back to doing what we do best covering the accomplishments of our readers and monitoring the activities of public officials rather than wrangling over frivolous legal battles.