Photo credit: The Guardian
I’ve been reading a lot about the Taylor Swift photography contract that everyone is talking about. In case you haven’t heard, it is reported that Ms. Swift released a photographer contract for press and freelance photographers who come to her shows, that they have to agree to some pretty stringent-sounding terms in order to work there. The Huffington Post reports the contract stipulates the following:
- The photos could only be used once. Newspapers could not keep the photos for their archives or to use later
- The photos could not be posted to social media
- Swift was allowed to use all photos for non-commercial purposes
- Swift or anyone else related to the tour had the right to damage or destroy equipment or data belonging to photographers if the terms of the agreement were not met
“The right to damage or destroy equipment or data?” Does this seem a little extreme? The Huffington post article also reports that this news comes on the heels of an issue between Swift and Apple in which the singer told Apple that she would not be giving Apple access her 1989 album for their new music streaming service because they would not be paying artists, writers, and staff for a 3-month trial period. A photographer called Swift a hypocrite saying, “you seem happy to restrict [photographers] to being paid once, and never being able to earn from our work ever again, while granting you the rights to exploit our work for your benefit for all eternity.” A Poynter article points out that this is something that many celebrities and sports figures are doing in exchange for giving access to themselves and their events.
Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association, stated to Poynter, “My opinion is that these contracts are unnecessary and overreaching. From the point of view of the artist they serve their purpose completely, unless of course people not only refuse to sign the agreement but also decline to report on/review the concert entirely.”
What side of the fence are you on? Is this contract, and ones like it, standing up for artists? Do contracts like this protect public figures and their image or do they keep press and freelance photographers from being able to earn a living for themselves?