PGA Tour, Australian Media Pull Off Prez Cup Pact
By Stephanie Wei under Presidents Cup

Aussie Media: We're not going to put up with totalitarian media regs!

A few weeks ago the Australian scribes read the PGA Tour media regulations for the Presidents Cup and put on their protest in response to the tyrannical policies. Several large organizations, including the Australian AP, Reuters, News Limited and Fairfax Media, threatened not to sign the credentials agreement and cover the event from off-site, so they wouldn’t be hindered by the Tour’s regulations (mostly re: copyright on pictures and videos). But good news — both sides sat down and finally reached a deal.

Here’s the full media blast below, but it sounds like the most significant amendment is allowing news organizations to publish tournament footage (but not live play-by-play) that is geo-blocked (only accessible in Australia — that sucks for American fans)…

The PGA TOUR has worked through the issues raised by Australian news organizations with respect to the media regulations for the upcoming Presidents Cup 2011 and has made clarifications and amendments within the regulations to alleviate any concerns that signing the regulations would violate the Australian Copyright Act.

The Presidents Cup will be played November 15-20, 2011, at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

“We had a very good meeting on Monday in Melbourne to iron out all the issues, and I’d like to thank representatives from the Victorian Major Events Company for their assistance in bringing all parties to the table to find a workable solution,” said Ed Moorhouse, co-chief operating officer, PGA TOUR.  “The PGA TOUR’s media regulations and any restrictions within are in place to protect its exclusive television broadcasters.  However, we have a unique circumstance with The Presidents Cup 2011 and Fair Dealing under the Australian Copyright Act and how its applied and accepted by organizations in the coverage of sport here in Australia.”

The most significant amendment to The Presidents Cup media regulations is that Australian Authorized Outlets can take tournament footage from Fox Sports and NINE Network during play and use footage on news websites or mobile news services.  However, video highlights must be geo-blocked to be accessible and displayed only in Australia and cannot purport to be live, play-by-play coverage from Royal Melbourne Golf Club.  As with the TOUR’s existing regulations, the video obtained in accordance with the Australian Copyright Act’s Fair Dealing doctrine may not be sold, distributed, syndicated or provided to any other entity, or used for any other purpose after 48 hours from the conclusion of The Presidents Cup.  Also, the video cannot be used in any direct or indirect commercial manner, except that normal run of site advertising.

Another change involved copyright of footage gathered at The Presidents Cup.  While the PGA TOUR remains the absolute owner of any internet coverage collected at tournament site during the event, Australian Authorized Outlets will retain copyright to interviews collected to the extent permitted by Australian Law.  Again, the interviews must be geo-blocked, cannot include any golf action and can be used solely for news purposes and not commercial sale.

And finally, the PGA TOUR acknowledges that the Australian Copyright Act may permit Australian Authorized Outlets to use scoring and statistical information for news purposes once the data has been published on PGATOUR.COM.  Match-by-match scoreboards must be geo-blocked to be accessible and displayed only in Australia, cannot be archived or used for any purpose after 24 hours following the conclusion of the applicable Presidents Cup round.

News Ltd’s Network Sports Publisher Tom Salom welcomed the PGA TOUR’s decision to amend its regulations in line with the fair use principles applied to all Australian sporting events.  “It is a sensible outcome and one that allows News Ltd’s digital platforms to provide extensive news coverage to one of the biggest sporting events in Australia this year.  At the same time, the PGA TOUR is able to protect its global interests.”

Jack Matthews, CEO of Metro Media, said, “Fairfax Media is pleased to come to an agreement that respects the interests of the PGA TOUR while still allowing Fairfax to fulfill its role as an independent news organisation. We appreciate the open discussions with the PGA TOUR and look forward to covering what should be an exciting event for Australia.”

If the Tour amended the rules for an event in Australia, it should also apply them to the outdated media regulations that the U.S. press has had to deal with. Doesn’t that make sense? They’ve recognized the error of their policies and an exception shouldn’t be made for just one event because all the big Aussie publications threatened to boycott (though I realize the Aussie copyright laws and such are different). The deal that was reached sounds reasonable and applicable to the needs of American news outlets.

Well, crisis averted — the Aussie press corps will cover the Presidents Cup on-site. I’m still wondering how Big Brother and the Secret Police will manage to make sure thousands of fans aren’t sending live play-by-play updates through their PDAs to Twitter, Facebook, etc.