PtG Article 17.03.2006

FIFA lifts all restrictions on newspaper photos

In a surprising about-turn FIFA has now agreed to lift all planned restrictions on digital publication of photographs from the upcoming World Cup in Germany. Now newspapers can publish all the photos they want on their websites and they can do it while the match is still being played.

The information has come in a joint press statement from FIFA and the World Organisation of Newspapers (WAN).

This is an unexpected development in a case that only two weeks ago seemed deadlocked. At that point WAN and FIFA were exchanging open letters which did not leave much room for negotiations. For instance, in his open letter to WAN, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said that the regulations concerning the use of photographs on the Internet was not open to further negotiations because "FIFA and Infront have already gone as far as they can in view of current contracts."

However, after a private meeting with Timothy Balding, chief exectuive officer of WAN, Sepp Blatter found room to move on the issues and has now given up on the idea of regulating photos on websites altogether.

In the press statement, Sepp Blatter says that FIFA now understands that it is necessary to take the same approach to publishing photos as to publishing text in order to respect the freedom of the press.

"I am satisfied that we have been able to amend the earlier position taken and thus to recognise WAN's justified requirements," says Sepp Blatter.

WAN calls Sepp Blatter's decision "wise and enlightened" and praises FIFA for upholding the traditional values of the free press and preserving the full free flow of information to the media and their audiences.

"We acknowledge that this has not been an easy decision for FIFA to take which is all the more reason for us to be delighted taht a common position has now been found," says Timothy Balding.