A Chicago-area Federal Court of Appeals has ruled that schools in Wisconsin have the right to reserve privileges to film local high school sporting events to paying video production companies, reports The Associated Press. Many people believe that because the schools are heavily funded by taxpayer money, this is an assault on the 1st Amendment.
Local newspapers in small towns throughout Wisconsin will no longer have the right to provide video streams of local sports to their subscribers because of the ruling in the case, Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association, and American-HiFi, Inc., v. Gannett Co., Inc., and Wisconsin Newspaper Association, which began in 2008.
The athletic association sued The Post-Crescent, an Appleton, Wis., newspaper, for streaming live coverage of its high school football playoff games, despite anger from many fans who rely on local papers for sports coverage. Bob Dreps, the attorney representing Gannett and the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, discussed the court’s ruling with the AP.
“We’re disappointed in the decision’s failure to distinguish taxpayer-funded high school sports from professional sports in any meaningful way. These are government-sponsored events,” Dreps said.
The defendants may again appeal the decision, which was based on a 1977 case involving Hugo Zacchini, who performed a 15-second human-cannonball act at a state fair and asked a reporter not to film the routine. The reporter did so anyway, and the footage was played on the evening news. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Zacchini’s favor, saying the journalist could have complied by reporting on the event without filming.
The ruling comes only days after Representative Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) directed police to confiscate cameras from participants at a town hall meeting. According to reports, Chabot spokesman Jamie Schwartz has said the cameras were taken to protect constituents’ privacy, and media cameras were allowed to roll because staffers expected the media to respect people’s privacy. Chabot has been in office for eight terms.
Judson Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation, has called Chabot a “moron” and a Republican Congressman who has “taken stupidity to the next level,” as Democrats “like Maxine Waters and Frederica Wilson” have.
“First, you cannot confiscate the property of a private citizen without a warrant or some other due process,” he wrote in a recent blog post. “Second, and I will type this slowly just in case Chabot is reading this so he will understand this. PHOTOGRAPHY IS NOT A CRIME.”