What are the copyright laws on photos taken at sports events?

Copyright laws for photography during sports events are some of the most controversial copyright issues.
Sports photography copyright has no clear boundaries telling you the limitations of your use of each photo. You’ll have to find that out yourself.
This post is focused on how you can easily find what copyright covers during a sports events and what it does not entail.

First off, what is copyright law?

Copyright laws give exclusive rights to original works to their authors. The owners can exercise this right and except you are permitted by the author, you are not permitted to use any of the work in any manner.

What copyright protects

Copyright protects all original works such as books, paintings, photography, videos, etc.

Rights of copyright owners

Copyright owners enjoy complete ownership over their products. They have the right to sell, duplicate, and improve upon their works.
They can also grant all or some of these rights to others through licensing.
Now that we have covered the basics of what a copyright is let’s see how they are applied in photography during sports events.

Sports Events Held In Public Facilities 

Sports events held in a government-owned facility or area is open to anyone to photograph and use the photos as deemed fit. However, you must seek permission of those whose faces are shown clearly in your photos for permission if you intend to use them in published works like the newspaper or magazine.

Sports events held in private facilities or area 

Often you’ll want to seek permission from the organizers before pointing your camera and shooting away in a private facility. 
This is because organizers often sell rights to these events to photography companies who then owns the sole rights to market photos from such events. This is especially true for most international sports like the premier league or national sports events.

Can you sell photos from taken during sports events?

You may sell a group photo from sport events held in a public facility or area. For others, you may want to seek permission from the organizers or individuals shown in the photos.

Showing Team Logos And Brands

Logos and brands are trademarked. Unauthorized use or duplication of either a logo or brand is violated the owner’s rights.
You are not allowed to feature any logo or brand in your photos during a sports events as it’ll be deemed to be an unauthorized duplication.
However, most trademark owners will be happy to see their logos or brands featured in a good report, and as such, this law is often not taken as a serious issue.
But you are advised to avoid using any photos with a trademark for any commercial purposes or in a depreciating manner that will otherwise be considered as offensive to the team.

Marketing Your Product With Sport Photos

Using a club logo or brand on your product is an infringement of the owners copyright.

If the image however appears insignificant to your marketing then you’re probably safe to continue using it.

Posting Photos From Sports Events On Your Website

Featuring photos on your sports news website is not deemed as breaching the copyright law, and you’re free to do so.