The Feud Continues: Taylor Swift Gets Called Out by Another Photographer

The Feud Continues: Taylor Swift Gets Called Out by Another Photographer

Here we go again! Another photographer named Joel Goodman has called out Taylor Swift over stipulations in the contract that is handed out to photographers shooting her most recent tour: 1989 World Tour. This time, however, the contract states that the entertainment group known as Firefly Entertainment reserves the right to "destroy the technology" that houses the photographs. This is one step beyond what the previous contract stated.

If you fail to fully comply with this Authorization, authorized agents of FEI, the Artist or the Related Entities may confiscate and/or destroy the technology or devices that contain the master files of the Photographs and other images, including, but not limited to, cell phones and memory cards, and the Photographs and any other images.

This part is the most interesting to photographers. Essentially it says, "break our rules and we'll break your gear." Joel Goodman is the second photographer to have an issue with Taylor Swift's contracts since she posted an open letter in regard to Apple's new music streaming service. Jason Sheldon recently called out Taylor Swift for limiting the use of the photos shot at her concert. Essentially stating that photos aren't allowed to be resold or used in the photographers own advertisements/portfolio without permission from Firefly Entertainment. 

What do you think? Personally, I immediately thought this is how paparazzi would be treated. However, is this how Taylor Swift treats all concert photographers who take photos on her 1989 world tour? Perhaps these occurrences are incredibly rare and are more meant to protect Ms. Swift in extreme circumstances? 


[via PetaPixel]

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Justin Haugen's picture

Sounds like the pits.

Whoever signs a stupid contract like this one above has only himself to blame. Seriously, isn't there a common 'good practice' for this type of contract concerning a specific type of photographic coverage? And why would anyone who's supposedly a professional let himself be screwed in that fashion? To put it more bluntly: why hasn't anybody complained about this before? Smells to me a little like some folks in the community are using this as a way got attract some (otherwise probably undeserved) attention.

John Sheehan's picture

From what I'm hearing about from people who do concert photography, the release is shoved in their faces moments before they are to shoot, and told to sign in a hurried fashion. I can easily see someone who's jockeying for position in the pit and has a trillion things going through their heads signing the paper just to get back to what they are doing. Still, always read and understand what you are signing.

It is presented to you while picking up the accreditation. Either you sign it or you do not get an accreditation. After that explain to your customers where are the shots =) Rarely anyone would listen and give you right that you did not sign it. That's the sad part and that's why they can do any of it.
But just wondering how this would work on EU grounds since many of copyrights laws are different here and at least couple of articles in the contract would automatically be void.

Unfortunately, especially for larger mega-concert performers (like TS), the photographers are on assignment from a credible outlet.
This puts them in the conundrum of either turning down the contract and risk never being able to shoot for them again, or swallowing a bit of dignity and subjecting yourself to these restrictions, just for a "one-time only" payout, which may not be that much at all.

And people *have* complained. All throughout the concert photography community. These agreements are colloquially termed "rights grab" contracts, and while many musicians and performers are throwing them out, they are still very much common, especially for bigger performers which are managed by industry corporations.

Chris Adval's picture

Simple response. If you're freelance, and you're top of your field, you have the power to stand up and force the changes by boycotting and not shooting Swift's events. Once she lacks great images they'll either rely on hobbyists or audience/fan photos only, they may start having a change in tone they may not who knows. If they understand quality they will meet the demands of the photography industry to respect us we'll respect you deal.

Neil Burke's picture

No concert photographer will ever have the clout to stand up to against the contract demands of a celeb like Swift. Even the large media companies like PA/Reuters/Corbis/Getty have to sign. As it has been said previously, the choice is sign the contract put in front of you or get out of the venue. The demands aren't right, but a few photographers boycotting a gig isn't going to change anything as there will be many willing to take their place. Frankly, naming and shaming like this will probably have more impact... concert photographers should engage in a concerted (lol) effort to call her out on her twitter account etc.

Bob Singleton's picture

The biggest problem is Getty. To use Taylor Swift as an example, as she's the one everyone is talking about, she/her management have an agreement with Getty. What exactly that agreement consists of only the two relevant parties know, but we can all hazard a guess. Getty photographers are not required to sign the rights-grabbing contract that has been discussed by Jason Sheldon and others. They have a different contract, with Getty, which, in return for £nnn they assign all rights to those images to Getty. When a publication needs photos of Miss Swift (as most of the world's media did last week) they go to Getty. Why? Because Getty don't have to ask her management for permission to licence the images. Had I signed her contract and then a publication other than the one I was shooting for wanted to use my images I would need to ask her management permission first... and I'm damned sure I would receive no reply! Even the publication I was shooting for couldn't re-use the images without permission, and they too would be forced to use images supplied by Getty. So, her "contract" is designed to protect the agreement she has with Getty, which in effect stops the rest of us from earning a living.

Taylor Swift was hypocritical in complaining about Apple when she does similar things to other artists (ie music photographers), but the real villain is Getty.

I don't see them breaking gear so much as destroying the media said images are stored on.

Their legalese is vague enough that they could do both. (Memory card, camera, computer, HDD, etc...)

Eric Lefebvre's picture

Considering how little concert photography pays, and how much some of the higher end CF or CFast cards cost ...

A 32GB CF card can cost you 90$
A Eye-Fi card is also around 90$ and if you were also sending to your phone they could destroy your phone as part of this contract (90$ for the card and 600$ for a new smartphone).

Just saying.

Taylor Swift didn't write the contract herself.

A few things:

One, you'd actually be surprised how often messed up $#!+ like that happens.
Two, even if they only take your camera and delete the memory card, it's still borderline illegal.
Three, your cynical attitude really does the photography community a disservice, when you should instead be sticking up for our right to make an honest and livable income doing what we love.

Chris Adval's picture

She hired the team to do it for her... she signs off on it by allowing it as they represent her... no different if she hired an CEO do handle all the work and she handles the singing, they work for her, period, she's responsible publicly. Similar to Walmart, no one hates Walmart employee's but a lot of people hate the family behind it.

Eric Lefebvre's picture

No but it is done in her name and she is ultimately the one responsible for what her employees or contractors do.

And even if she didn't write the contract ... now that she has been made aware of the unequal nature of the contract ... will she do anything about it or will this be a case of do as I say and not as I do"?

Chris Adval's picture

I think they'll just simply try to ignore and let the bad PR die down on its own. If we keep our mouths shut and simply forget the issue then yea, they'll win. They already won big for Swift and her team by bitching about apple, we just need an icon in concert photography to be as loud as Swift was to apple. She's Apple in the Swift vs. Photographers issue she now has.

Justin Roux's picture

Attention whores everywhere...

But it's working. And they even have people getting their panties in a knot over it.

Justin Roux's picture

Absolutely, it always work. But that is if you care about that. Some people like to be in the social media hot spot, others care more about working hard.

michael buehrle's picture

does it still count if i'm wearing my dukes of hazard confederate flag shirt ?

Do they provide contact info for obtaining the mandatory permissions for further usages?

I think some people our missing the point here. If you are commissioned be a publication to cover the concert you may have out of pocket expenses. So if you do not sign the contract, then you do not get to cover the event, then you do not get paid and the publication may not commission you in the future.

So a suggestion:
Photographers/ agencies I understand, must request pit passes days/weeks before the concert. On the request they should put a clause that their representative on the day is not empowered to enter into a contract with the management company. If the pass is issued then the management company have accepted this clause. This would make it very hard for the management company to enforce a contract on the day. Would this work or help?

Neil Burke's picture

Great idea. Still leaves indie photographers screwed.

I just had another thought.

The contract states that the management company reserves the right to "destroy the technology" that houses the photographs. This does not include lenses, monopods, phones/laptops that the images have not been downloaded to. As for the camera, does it contain the image or does the memory card? So if these items are damages then the management company has curtailed the photographers right to earn a living. A good start for a lawsuit.

Jason Woods's picture

Unfortunately, it says, "including but not limited to." Meaning, all of your equipment is fair game.

Paulo Macedo's picture

A swift move would be to ignore this project of a singer...stupid music with no taste. If all photographers would just not go to any of her events, that would be nice. As for me, back to Django Reinhardt (real music).

'swift move' … I see what you did there.

What would Annie Leibovitz do?

Daniel Pryce's picture

Honestly, I don't think her management would care if you used it in your portfolio. I'm a concert photographer, but I feel that this clause is in the contract to protect them from photographers selling photos for commercial use in advertisement and company social media. More and more big brands are asking photographers to shoot social media for them, i've been asked for one. Without the contract, there is nothing stopping a photographer from selling a concert photo to say, Molson (Beer Brand), to promote their product on social media.

Not allowing the photographer to use their photos, on their website is excessive, but I do agree to an extent with letting Swift use photos taken for promotion on social media. I personally think that every photographer in the pit should be shooting on spec for the artist, and if the artist wants to use a photo for promotion, they should pay a licensing fee of $75 - $100. Its chump change for them, and its a more than fair price considering you weren't commissioned to shoot for them (the artist).

Just my thoughts from a 20 year old thats making his way into the industry. Please add any corrections or thoughts. :)

Eric Lefebvre's picture

"Honestly, I don't think her management would care if you used it in your portfolio."

They SPECIFICALLY state that you cannot use the photos in your port in this contract.

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