Woodstock News

Associated Press

Media Seek Cop Site Photo Removal

NEW YORK (AP) - Gov. George Pataki has been asked by prominent journalism groups to order the state police to remove copyright news photos from its Woodstock '99 Web pages.

Fourteen news photos were posted on the state police web site - eight by photographers for The Associated Press, four carried by Syracuse Online and two from newspapers - in an attempt to identify possible suspects in the rioting and looting that followed the concert.

The photos were posted July 30 without the permission of the news organizations. Both the AP and Syracuse Online demanded the photos be taken down, saying the action infringed on copyrights and damaged the traditional separation of newsgathering from police activity.

Glenn Valle, counsel for the state police, said Thursday police have no plans to remove the photos.

``It is the position of the New York State Police that the posting of the previously published newsphotos ... does not infringe upon any copyright interests of The Associated Press,'' Valle said in a letter.

The New York Press Club, The Deadline Club, The New York State Associated Press Association and Debby Krenek, editor-in-chief of the New York Daily News, each wrote to Pataki to oppose the posting of the photos.

``If you allow the State Police's use of the AP's photos to persist, the public's confidence in the independence and accuracy of the press will be eroded,'' Krenek said. ``Inevitably members of the press will be perceived as law enforcement operatives and our ability to report independently and thoroughly will be compromised.''

Rosemary K. Robinson, managing editor/days of Syracuse Newspapers, which provides material to Syracuse Online, wrote Pataki to ``protest police use of these photographs in this way for the potential harm it does the newsgathering process.'' Robinson also is president of the association of New York State papers affiliated with the AP.

``The role and responsibility of the State Police investigating events at Woodstock are both clear and important,'' wrote Louis D. Boccardi, president and CEO of the AP. ``So also is the historic and equally important separation of police functions and journalistic functions. If our photographers are to be seen as proxies for state police investigators, they will be placed in danger.''

Valle, in his letter, rejected the contention that ``utilization of the photos under these circumstances, could lead any reasonable person to infer that The Associated Press is `an arm of the state.'''

Pataki spokesman Michael McKeon said the governor had ``asked his counsel to review'' the letters.

State police said the photos have produced more than 150 e-mail responses.

Thus far, 39 arrests have been made on charges ranging from disorderly conduct to sodomy. No arrests have been made in the five rapes reported at the event, or in any other major Woodstock-related crimes. The police have not said whether any of the arrests resulted from the pictures on the Web site.

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