For Parents How common are restrictive media rights at low level events?

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Aug 24, 2008
Royse City, Texas
:confused:I may be overreacting, however, the following issue has me worked up;

I attended a gymnastics competition at the Allen Texas, Eagle’s Wings Gymnastics Center “2008 Girls Rock the Houseâ€￾ USAG Level 3-6 Event Competition on Saturday, to watch my niece compete. After witnessing a surprising run-in between my sister, someone from Champion Images Photography and the owner of Eagle’s Wings Gymnastics I have come to the conclusion that something may need to be done to protect the interest of parents and athletes with regards to ownership of Media Rights at these events.

It seems that Eagle’s Wings Athletics had entered into a restrictive contract with the event photography company. The agreement sells the “Media Rightsâ€￾ of this event to Champion Images Photography. At the front door of the event was a large sign which read as follows:


“Professional Photographic Equipment Is Prohibited



The distribution of images from this event, whether for profit or not for profit, is strictly prohibited.

The use of PROFESSIONAL TYPE CAMERA EQUIPMENT at this event is prohibited which includes, but is not limited to camera body, tripods, monopods, lenses greater than 6 inches or 200mm, flashes or strobes. Absolutely no flash photography allowed. All rights associated with all photographic images remain the possession of USA Gymnastics and Champion Images only. Any person violating this policy may be subject to removal from the venue and held legally liable for any damages associated with the violation.â€￾


It was bad enough that the staff allowed such an offensive sign, but to attempt to enforce it against a mother taking pictures of her daughter and her daughter’s teammates was really amazing. There can be no mistaking the intent of this sign and the subsequent actions, it was to protect the financial interests of outside parties to pictures of our children. Pictures we take and pictures they take.

I have no problem with Event Photographers trying to protect their own copyrighted material, however, as the sign indicates they are now overstepping this position and are attempting to eliminate our rights to pictures we take.

I heard the owner of the club tell the mother that the parents were restricted to photographing their child only and that taking a picture of their child interacting with any of their teammates was also prohibited. It was also prohibited for one parent to request that another parent take a picture of their child for them. He stated that he would physically block her from taking pictures of anyone except her own child.

These two latter positions were not documented anywhere on the premise and sounded like something they were making up on the spot.

I have not seen this issue of Media Rights come up at any other low level competitions over the last few years and I am wondering how prevalent it is.

My sister was in no way causing a problem and was behaving in a responsible manner photographing her child (my niece) interacting with her friends. She was shooting from the viewing areas. She was not blocking anyone’s view or access. She was not organizing the kids into groups or in anyway communicating with them. The only threat the mother represented was to the financial interest of the Event Photographer.

While she was obviously upset by this she handled it well and quietly modified her picture taking.

Whether this sale of Media Rights was done legally or not (I'm checking into this now), it still seems unethical to me. Forcing the parents to give up Media Rights to their young children’s activities for low level sporting competitions which they have already paid for and for which the hosting club is receiving income is to me unethical. Photography and Media Rights have nothing to do with Gymnastics and should not be a part of any legal agreement to participate in the sport, especially at the low levels.

Parents and the children themselves are the ones who ethically own the Media Rights to their participation in these events. It is parents who foot the bill for these clubs and the training costs of their kids, not the Gymnastics Clubs, the USAG or the Event Photographers. It is parents and sponsors who already pay high fees for their kids to compete in these low level competitions. To attempt to force these same parents to get their pictures from the Event Photographers and to restrict their rights to take the photos, harrass the parents and limit their rights to use their own photographs is uncalled for. Most other organizations use ethical fundraising activities which allow the organization to draw upon the resources of the community at large. Using the Event Photographers to prey on the parents as a fund raising effort is an unnecessary burden on the parents who are already bearing a high cost just to keep their child in the program.

When a policy is adopted to benefit unrelated-for-profit enterprises which interfere with a parent’s right to photograph their kids and teammates at events which the parents have already paid for and which the host parents have worked to help put on, something is wrong.

The event photographers started out as a way to provide quality photos of the kids to those who could afford them. The concept made sense; let a few professionals work behind the lines to produce a good product. Apparently the event photographers were not making enough money and rather than peacefully go out of business as they should have, the event photographers decided to create a contractual monopoly to take the right to photograph away from those who paid for all of this and to make sure they (and the club’s owners) were the only ones allowed to profit from our kid’s abilities. The concept of “Media Rightsâ€￾ to young childrens’ sporting activities is the result.

We are talking about pictures which only you and your family care about. You can’t even "distribute" a copy of your own pictures to Grandma according to the notice printed above. There is no outside market for these pictures and the only ones being negatively impacted are the parents and sponsors who have already paid large amounts of money to participate.

So, am I overreacting or is this something which we should work to discourage?


I don't think you're overreacting and I would be absolutely furious if this were my child's event. NO ONE has the authority to tell me that I cannot photograph MY OWN CHILD at any time I want, with whatever equipment I choose to utilize. I find this an outrageous affront to parental rights and I would be livid.


Proud Parent
Feb 19, 2007
I would be furious as well. Sounds like the parents need to approach gym management as a group and express their outrage at this whole setup. That is just plain old ridiculous!!!

We've had "professional" photographers at my DD's meets in the past, but they in no way infringe upon our parental rights to photograph our own children. They make plenty of money selling the quality "action" shots that most of us cannot catch. I just don't get this at all!!!


gym law mom

Proud Parent
Dec 23, 2006
I would be very upset at being limited as to what pictures i could take of my child at a meet. We have been at meets with professional photographers, but they did action shots on the floor or posed pics and didn't care what pictures or cameras parents used. Uusally their pics were available to look at and buy on line or at the end of the meet. The no flash rule is routine at all gym meets for the safety of the girls.

Is this illegal? Ummmmm----probably not. Unethical----you bet. It was this gym that entered into a contract with this photographer and they can restrict what you do on their property. Was it a good idea? Absolutely not. I'll bet they get alot of complaints from parents and gyms and may find very poor attendance at their meet next year.

Have to ask this? Did they get alot of pictures of every girl and are they selling them for a reasonable price or ripping parents off there too?
Sep 13, 2007
way out West
Just a few tidbits...let me know if I'm out of line....

The USAG Women's Rules and Policies state that unless a person is "helping" with the meet (volunteers), they need to have a USAG professional membership/safety certifications, so photographers who are contracted for the sole purpose of making money by selling photographs should not be allowed on the floor at a USAG sanctioned event even if it is in a private gym.

See what they think of that...

I can't stand that gym anyway...the coaches are rude and can't follow meet procedure.
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Oct 2, 2007
Wow! This must be new this season. I've been to many meets where Champion has been the photographer and have never seen this sign. We love their images; but they are so expensive (like $6 or $8 for a 4 X 6).

The past few seasons, we have rented a big (really big) lens for about $30 so that we could have photos without the huge expense from Champion.

Of course, they have the better angles because they're allowed on the floor (!).

If this policy continues throughout the season and into Optional season, we will surely have a "run-in" with them!

In my opinion, if they would charge a reasonable price for their photos, this would not be an issue. People would gladly buy dozens of photos of their children at $1 each!
Aug 24, 2008
Royse City, Texas
Thanks for your response Shawn, we had to fight the urge to escalate the issue at the event. We didn't want to disrupt the proceedings. The more I thought about it, the more annoyed I got which prompted my wordy post.

Aug 24, 2008
Royse City, Texas
Thanks for your response Tumblequeensmom, I've been thinking about asking our gym to make sure that any event which we host does not use a photographer which requires such a restrictive contract.
Aug 24, 2008
Royse City, Texas
Thanks gymmomntc2e6, I'm looking through the USAG entry forms and athlete registration documents to see if I can find anything authorizing photography or "media rights". So far I don't see any.
Aug 25, 2008
My Conern

My concern about Champion holding Media Rights to my daughter whom is a L6 is that what if one of our children happen to make it to World or Beyond? Does that mean that they can pull out photo's of our young children and sell them? Also would that take away our rights as parents? Is that concidered explotation of a minor? I will never buy photo's from Champion! I never even signed a release form consenting to any professional photographer taking pictures of my daughter. I think they should be boycotted! Phil what you wrote is kinda scary. I feel as though my rights have been violated.
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