One of Ireland’s largest newspapers told readers Tuesday morning not to expect any photos of Taylor Swift performing during her two sold-out concerts in Dublin.
The Irish Times passed on photographing her shows because of a restrictive contract Swift’s people ask shooters to sign. The contract gives the photographer a “one-time-only” use on the photos yet allows Swift unlimited rights to use the images for publicity and promotion.
Such contracts by entertainment figures are nothing new, except Swift famously called out Apple for initially withholding royalties to musicians during the free three-month trial period of the new Apple Music service.
While her stand, which came in the form of an open letter on her Tumblr page, forced Apple to reverse course, it attracted the ire of photographers who called her a hypocrite. If Swift is questioning why Apple expects performers to give their music away, some in the photo community are wondering why she is believes she has a right to use their work for free promotion.
“The terms and conditions of the contract are exceedingly restrictive and just no feasible for a working newspaper website,” deputy picture editor Brenda Fitzsimmons said in Tuesday’s Irish Times article.
British music photographer Jason Sheldon started the conversation on June 21 in his blog Junction10, in which he printed a copy of the contract and asked “How are you any different to Apple? If you don’t like being exploited, that great, make a huge statement about it and you’ll have my support. But how about making sure you’re not guilty of the very same tactic before you have a pop at someone else.”
Sheldon posted a response from a Swift spokesperson the next day, saying photographers retain the copyrights on their photos and are misrepresenting the contract.
The Irish Times article implied artists like Swift are going beyond usual protocol to protect any potential revenue sources and wondered if the next step would be a clampdown on smart photo photography by fans at shows.