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Newspapers United 1, Celtic 0

25 July 2002 - EPUK

Celtic were knocked out of planet football last night by the power of the Scottish Press. Today, there were no photographs of Celtic’s famous hoops anywhere. All newspapers and freelance photographers boycotted their game against Ajax Amsterdam last night. Some didn’t even bother with a match report.

The boycott was a result of Celtic’s audacious attempt to grab photographers’ and newspapers’ rights in return for match day passes. An EPUK ‘What the Papers say’ round up of Celtic’s pounding:

Winner of the Best Scottish Goal since Archie Gemmil’s against Holland goes to the Scottish Daily Mirror.

Back page of the Scottish Daily Mirror

A full front page devoted to Celtic’s greed with the heading ‘Blackout’,

“Thanks to the arrogance and greed of Martin O’Neill’s bosses at Parkhead, we are unable to bring you any pictures of Celtic’s game against Ajax last night, or any other game for that matter, until further notice….” Both front and back pages also featured a blank spaces where Celtic pictures should have been.

Glasgow’s Daily Ranger, er, sorry Record, were slightly less sensational in their coverage but still merits mention for their use of white space.

Back page of the Daily Record

Their back page is half white with a box reading:

“The Daily Record, along with all major newspapers in Scotland, did not send a photographer to Parkhead for Celtic’s friendly against Ajax last night. The club is trying to impose punitive and possibly unlawful conditions on papers in exchange for access to the ground”.

The theme continues in The Sun with another blank rectangle:

Back page of the Scottish Sun

”.....They’re demanding we hand them the rights to the pictures we take at Parkhead for you….We think this is unreasonable and we are unwilling to submit to such demands”.

Unfriendly Match

The united stance was not just evident in the tabloids, The Scotsman…...wait a minute, The Scotsman? the same rights grabbing Scottish Institution? the same publication that issued its very own ‘all rights forever’ on commissioned photography for no extra fee? Maybe they’ve had a bang on the head then:

“The conditions sought at Celtic Park are so severe as to deny the ability of newspapers and photographers to do their jobs properly”.

It’s a funny old game copyright. The Scotsman’s rights contract was specifically designed to deny photographers the ability to do their jobs properly. Yet here they are complaining without any apparent sense of self-irony when the boot is on the other foot: perhaps the Celtic directors have been studying the Scotsman’s game plan?

It’s good to see the Scottish papers take such a robust and uncompromising stand against what the Mirror rightly characterised as Celtic’s “arrogance and greed”. And while it’s nice to see that the Scotsman had the common sense to join the boycott, it’s the height of hypocrisy for them to complain while they currently face legal action from photographers for their own rights grabbing antics.

Funny that: for the Scotsman copyright is a game of two faces.

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