Blogging has its limits in the SEC

The Southeastern Conference is seeking to control how many blog posts or, presumably, even Twitter updates, can be done during a football game as well as control even video from press conferences.

The more restrictive rules disclosed Friday are in the credential agreements journalists covering SEC games must sign for press passes that allow photographers and videographers on the sidelines and writers in the press box.

The new policy is more restrictive on what "real-time" coverage is and the SEC terms say only it can decide if a blog is violating "real-time" coverage rules. Would find the experience of reading a blog during a game similar to the real-time radio broadcast or  televised coverage? Not me.

Auburn University's version of the agreement says three in-game accounts (stories, blog posts or Tweets and text messages, too, presumably) are allowed per quarter and one at halftime, but the SEC terms don't seem to be that specific.

The Auburn University version of the agreement says:

While the game is in progress, the use of textual statistical information is time-delayed and limited in amount (e.g., updates pertaining to score, injuries and national, conference or institutional record-breaking performances, a condensed half-time story) so that the Bearer's internet or online game coverage does not undercut the authorized and rights-paying fee organization's right to play-by-play accounts of the game and/or exclusivity as to such rights. For football, these submissions are limited to three per quarter and one at halftime.

Time limits on when video clips can be shown and how long clips can be also are part of the agreement. (The Auburn credentials agreement limits videos to three minutes or less.)

The most controversial aspect of the new rules is that it limits video from press conferences and even practice. In the usual scenario, press conferences are held for the cameras. Here's more from TuscaloosaNews.com.

There are similar provisions in the "fine print" of tickets for those going as spectators, which they might find surprising as they're tweeting, texting, blogging or shooting cell phone video that comes under wary gaze of the SEC rights guardians.

Here is a PDF of the new terms and conditions.

What a reporter or photographer can do at game has raised concerns before from media organizations that regularly cover member-school games, but in most cases, the SEC schools have employed more common-sense than lawyerese in balancing the rights of the television and radio networks (which pay a princely sum for the rights to the games) with the evolving technologies of the Internet.

Hopefully, this is not an effort, as it has been with some international sports organizations, to own every use of the games.

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