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NY Police Pull Woodstock Photos

August 10, 1999

NEW YORK (AP) _ State Police officials have removed news photos from their Woodstock ’99 Web pages, the latest step in a controversy that brought complaints from news organizations over use of the images in police work.

``The reason we took the pictures off was because they didn’t provide any more leads,″ said Lt. Jamie Mills, a State Police spokeswoman.

The 14 news photos were posted July 30 without permission and removed Friday after a week of protests by media groups to police and Gov. George Pataki.

The source of most of the photos _ The Associated Press and Syracuse Online, affiliated with Syracuse Newspapers _ had demanded the pictures be removed, arguing that their use violated copyright and blurred the traditional separation between journalism and police work.

State Police had hoped the photographs would encourage the public to identify suspects in the rioting and looting that marred the end of the Woodstock concert. As of Monday, none had led to an arrest, Mills said.

New photos have been posted. Mills said most of those were taken by state employees.

Richard Barrantes, a State Police lawyer, said the state had not backed away from its argument that it was legal and fair to post the news photos on the Web site.

Robert Penchina, a lawyer for the AP, said the news organization would ``remain vigilant in making sure that its intellectual property is not misused.″

``We view the fact that the photos have been taken down as a victory not only in protecting AP’s copyright interests but also in avoiding further erosion of the line between investigation and reporting done by journalists and the investigatory arm of the state,″ he said.

Various news organizations complained about the posting of the photos in letters to police or Pataki, including The New York Press Club, The Deadline Club, The New York State Associated Press Association, the New York Daily News, The New York Times and The Buffalo News.

Louis D. Boccardi, president and CEO of the AP, had written that the role and responsibility of State Police was clear and important but that it was equally important to separate police and journalism functions.

``If our photographers are to be seen as proxies for state police investigators, they will be placed in danger,″ he said.

State Police officials say the photos have produced more than 150 e-mail responses. So far, police have arrested 39 people on charges ranging from disorderly conduct to sodomy. No one has been arrested in the five rapes reported at the event or in other major Woodstock-related crimes.

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