Photographers add Foo Fighters to their Taylor Swift contract battle

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The Foo Fighters will perform at RFK Stadium and one news outlit is boycotting over its photo agreement.
The Foo Fighters will perform at RFK Stadium and one news outlit is boycotting over its photo agreement.
Photo: Jo/Flickr CC

Taylor Swift’s bold rant against Apple over royalties continues to echo in the ears of photographers.

A quick recap . . . Swift used her Tumblr page to chide Apple for initially not paying musicians during the trial period of the new Apple Music. Then a music photographer in England called her a hypocrite because the contract her people force editorial photographers to sign before shows says Swift has the right to use those photos for free to promote her brand.

Apple backed down, but the good publicity-bad publicity for Swift has photographers and photo editors taking second looks at the contracts of other musical acts.

Washington City Paper is boycotting the Foo Fighters’ RFK Stadium concert over the Fourth of July for similar restrictions to photographers assigned to cover the event. This comes in the same week The Irish Times in London refused to assign a photographer to cover two Swift shows in Dublin because of her contract.

In a post Thursday, Washington City Paper’s Steve Cavendish published a copy of the Foo Fighters’ contract, noting this passage: The band has “the right to exploit all or a part of the Photos in any and all media, now known or hereafter devised, throughout the universe, in perpetuity, in all configurations” without approval or payment or consideration for the photographer.

Photographers and bands have always had simple agreements over how concerts pictures would be used. By receiving a press credential, photographers agree the photos will be used for editorial use only.

But now that we live in a digital world, it is getting more and more difficult for both photographers and musicians to control how images are used on the web. Many websites just grab and publish images without compensating the copyright holders. Business-savvy bands also seek to control photo usage as a possible revenue stream.

Cavendish said the band management told Washington City Paper the contract language was an industry standard worded to protect the band. Yet, the Rolling Stones make no such demands on photographers covering their shows, according to Cavendish.

Still, Washington City Paper plans to cover the Foo Fighters concert with photos. Because band management can’t possibly control the thousands of fans taking pictures at the concert, the paper asked fans to send in their photos for possible publication.

“If we run it in next week’s print edition, we’ll pay you for it,” Cavendish wrote. “And we won’t ask you to sign over the copyright or your first born, either.”

If you are at the concert and wish to help Washington City Paper cover the concert, send photos to editor@washingtoncitypaper.com or tweet them @WCP.