Copyright and Ethical Issues in Emerging Models for the Digital Media Reporting of Sports News in Australia

Copyright and Ethical Issues in Emerging Models for the Digital Media Reporting of Sports News in Australia

Mary Wyburn (University of Sydney, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2136-7.ch014
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Abstract

The chapter examines the copyright and ethical issues raised by emerging models for the digital media reporting of sports news in Australia. In particular, it explores the use by news organisations of a defence in copyright law that provides protection against an infringement action for the reporting of news and the use by sports organisations of journalist accreditation to limit, by way of contract, the uses made of copyright material generated at sports events. It briefly outlines some proposed responses to these issues, including amending copyright law or establishing an industry code of conduct for the accreditation of news organisations accessing and reporting on sports events in the digital media. These matters were raised in a 2009 Senate inquiry. The inquiry attracted submissions from international news organisations concerned that a more restricted access regime established by sports organisations in Australia might influence the terms negotiated in other countries. The conflicts arising in this industry sector are a small part of a much larger international landscape in which new digital communications technologies are offering greater business opportunities but at the same time challenging existing commercial relationships.
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Introduction

This chapter looks at the copyright and ethical issues raised by emerging models for the digital media reporting of sports news in Australia. A 2009 Senate committee report highlighted the conflicting stakeholder interests affected by these developments (Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts (ECA), The Reporting of Sports News and the Emergence of Digital Media Report, May 2009). The committee recommended sports and news media organisations negotiate an agreement on the issues or failing this, the government take measures to establish an industry code of conduct.

Interest in the committee’s consideration of these issues is not limited to Australia. The conflict between sports and news organisations is a small part of a much larger international picture, in which new digital communications technologies offer increased opportunities but also increased risks to established sports and media businesses. The popular sports like football (in all its versions) and cricket, have developed international profiles alongside the truly international sporting events of the Olympic and Commonwealth Games. Sports events are now the subject of digital piracy, involving the use of television signals, high-speed broadband and streaming technology (Mellis, 2008; NetResults, 2008) and often operating in a context where broadcasting regulation has not yet reached (DBCDE, 2009). At the same time as sports organisations are challenged by new communications technologies, established news media are struggling to contain the unauthorised use of their news content by search engines (Sinclair, 2010) and other information aggregators, as well as by bloggers, while they develop sustainable new business models (Perez-Pena, 2009). In this international context, precedents set in one country may influence the bargains being made in other jurisdictions, so there is international interest in how Australia is working towards solutions in this area.

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