While Taylor Swift has continued her tirade against all things music streaming, a concert photographer, Jason Sheldon, has himself written an open letter to her. Jason calls her a hypocrite for her stance on musical artistry, given her stance on the art of photography.
Mr. Sheldon posted a contract he was recently given upon shooting a concert of hers. Right off the bat, let's be clear: it's highly unlikely Taylor Swift has any knowledge of this contract or it's stipulations. That's just not on a teen sensations to do list; she has guitars to weep on. The main problem Jason has with the contract come from the stipulations seen in paragraph 2 and 3 seen below.
The contract states that Jason, the photographer, is not allowed to use any of the images in his own marketing, nor is he allowed to sell the photo to another publication use. And second, that Taylor and her team are allowed to use any of his photos anywhere, for any reason, for... well for forever.
Now.. forgive me if I’m wrong, but if you take points 2 and 3 in that contract (which is provided to Photographers who need to agree to those terms before they are allowed to do their job in photographing you for editorial outlets), it appears to be a complete rights grab, and demands that you are granted free and unlimited use of our work, worldwide, in perpetuity. You say in your letter to Apple that “Three months is a long time to go unpaid”. But you seem happy to restrict us 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….
Mr. Sheldon goes onto explain how this negatively impacts him as a freelance photographer.
As a freelance photographer, I am asked to photograph concerts by publications. I get paid IF and when the photos are used, not for turning up to a show and shooting it. Therefore, if the newspaper has a bigger story to run and doesn’t have enough room to use my photo, I don’t get paid.
When I’m not allowed to do anything else with the photos, that means I’ve incurred expenses to work, which I can’t recover. Therefore preventing me from licensing my photos to more than one publication, or even (as later versions of this contract stipulate) preventing me from using the images for my own self-promotion in a portfolio etc while they can use them without licensing the usage is highly unfair and unjustified.
What do you think? Personally, I would be most upset about not being able to use said photos in my portfolio. I could quite easily understand them not wanting a photo which reflected poorly on Taylor to show up in the tabloids, but those aren't the kind of photos a photographer puts in their portfolio. And I don't know about you, but having one of, if not the, biggest name in music in your portfolio would be pretty validating to other potential customers.
Jason's full letter can be found on his website.
UPDATE: A spokesperson from Taylor Swift's camp has responded to Jason's letter. While he doesn't deny some of the accusations, he attempts to soften them.
The standard photography agreement has been misrepresented in that it clearly states that any photographer shooting The 1989 World Tour has the opportunity for further use of said photographs with management's approval," the spokesperson said. "Another distinct misrepresentation is the claim that the copyright of the photographs will be with anyone other than the photographer — this agreement does not transfer copyright away from the photographer.
A certain level of fame does seem to afford a celebrity more control over images. Reportedly, Beyonce had any "unflattering" images removed from Getty after the 2013 Super Bowl (mashable).