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Photography News

Newspaper Insults & Rejects Foo Fighters Image Contract – Will Buy Fan Photos

By Kishore Sawh on July 3rd 2015


Article Screen Shot From The Washington City Paper

When you think of any industry today and where it may be going, you would be foolish not to consider disruptive brands, disruptive technology, and disruptive people and their behavior. Disruption may connote something negative, but really it depends on which side of the line in the sand you’re on.

What’s a disruptive brand in photography? Sony, without a doubt. Sony is just killing the photography game at the moment as we see photography shift from a manual endeavor to a software/tech one. Disruptive tech would be iPhones and Instagram making mobile photographers stars with a major platform. People and behavior? Taylor Swift anyone?

Swift’s photo contract has been a source of debate since she became rather outspoken about what she felt was Apple’s rather unfair treatment of artists. It set the stage for her to be a target from other art communities and photographers seemed to take up the mark. Well, it’s trickling now to the Foo Fighters. Swift’s images were boycotted by an Irish newspaper and now the Washington City Paper (WCP) is essentially doing the same – at least being vocal about their feelings regarding the Foo Fighters’ image contract, which you can see below:

Foo Fighters 2015 Photo Waiver

The long and short of it is the band was set for a massive 4th of July concert combining a 20th anniversary of the band returning to their home state. Washington City Paper had planned to send a photographer to cover the events but now has decided against it stating a ‘Swift-Like’ photo contract that ‘sucks’ as being the reason. Interesting word choice from a major publication.

Signing the contract seems to suggest again that the WCP would have singular use of the images, images that would have to pass muster with the band, and all copyrights will transfer to them after. The WCP finds further insult to injury in that the contract states, “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.” I’m no legal expert, but this suggests that the band can do whatever they want with the images, wherever and without paying or even informing the photographer.

That is exploitation of photographers, pure and simple. If a streaming music service tried to use the band’s music for free, they’d have none of it. That’s what the Taylor Swift-Apple blowup was about. But by signing that contract, the band could then use the creative work of our photographer in their future marketing materials or to resell them through their site.

So now, instead of sending a photographer to cover the event, the WCP is asking fans in attendance of the show to send in images they would like to see published, and to which point the WCP added rather cheekily, ‘We’ll pay you for it. And we won’t ask you to sign over the copyright or your first born, either.”


[REWIND: Taylor Swift’s Rep Responds To Photographer, But Another Contract Stipulation Revealed]

This is an interesting situation because we all know that bands and the like do rely on publicity, so we wonder when there will be any give, if at all. Some seem to be praising the efforts of WCP to protect the interests of photographers, and others seem to think it will hurt professional photographers as publications will just go the amateur route. Disruption. Not to mention that tickets often come with their own sort of ‘contract’ regarding taking and using images from concerts.

Where do you all stand on the matter?

Source: Washington City Paper

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Gordon Williams

    It’s sad to see one artist trample all over the rights of another artist.

    Before I buy another Foo Fighter / Taylor Swift album, their going to have to agree to my terms;

    I (insert band/musician) name, (The Musician) hereafter grant the purchaser the following rights in exchange for the purchase price all terms and conditions in perpetuity.

    1/ The Musician grants the purchaser the right to copy, rerecord, alter, rewrite the music into any form or media that the purchaser deems appropriate.

    2/ The Musician grants a licence to the copyright for the music to the this purchaser in exchange for the purchase price.

    3/ The Musician agrees to refund all or part of the purchase price for any of the music that does not meet with the purchasers taste, a Facebook vote with excess of 1000 votes shall be deemed acceptable medium to judge the purchasers taste.

    4/ The Musician waves all rights to the purchaser and agrees not to commence any legal action against the purchaser at any time.

    Signed by The Musician Dated

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  2. Mokhtar C

    Hopefully all of this is going somewhere. I totally support this !

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  3. John Priest

    I think raising awareness of this old and out dated treatment of artists/photographers is the best thing that has happened to our community in a long time. We are at crossroads and hopefully once and for all, hired photographers will get more than a “free ticket tot the show” for our talent and efforts. Otherwise the bands/venues can hire their “friends” to take photos for them, instead of talented artists/photographers like us!
    We all need to unite and support our craft in a professional but fair way.
    I’m hopeful it all works out for everyone.
    Time to shake the tree a little… Can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

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  4. Zoltan Nagy

    Wouldn’t worry much about photography taken over by “the crowd”. If you let 15000 phones into an event, each taking just 2 pictures throughout, there bound to be 1 out of 30K images that looks and feels good enough to use HOWEVER
    1. photog pit is there for a reason – crowd is not allowed in there, so good luck capturing details
    2. holding your phone with a zoom lens clipped onto it, close enough to the stage for the zoom to actually make a difference in a dense, constantly moving crowd AND composing your shot AND trying to catch the moment AND enjoying the show… again, good luck capturing details
    3. band and photog are (should be) existing in symbiosis, push it out of balance one way or another and within a relatively short amount of time you’re screwed – good luck tugging on that rope, rather than focusing your efforts on keeping both sides happy

    Storm in a teacup I think. There will always be people who think they are in control of everything, leave them to it, let them exploit whoever they can from pros to enthusiasts all the way down to the drummer’s uncle with his brand new DSLR set to auto screwed behind an 18-55 fresh out of the box. I’m not trying to dis people or equipment, but I strongly believe two things:
    1. if you’re good you’ll find paid work
    2. if you’re not good, go and find unpaid or less paid work that you believe ethical, and shoot till you’re good
    (3. always shoot unpaid work that you find ethical, because it keeps creativity alive, it helps others and let’s be honest, one can never stop getting better unless they chose to)

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  5. Peter McWade

    Where I stand on the issue. So I go take a crap load of images of the concert, I can’t sell them within 1 week of the concert. If they like the images they can pay for them and then they can have the rights to that photo. But not all the others I take. If after a week they don’t buy them I am then free to sell to anyone wanting them for their publications. If they want them they must pay for them. They have no rights for photos they don’t buy. They are my photos. If they don’t like my rules then they don’t get my photos. After about a week there will be little need or little desire to want the unused photos anyway so they are pretty much moot. The most desired time is within a week. Kinda like a wedding. Get the photos and albums out to the customer right now. Not a month down the road. By then they have moved on with life. Same with a concert. After the week they are on to something new. My old week old photos are old news and not really worth crap. For me, I’ll pass on the music business photography. Unless the payoff is real high its not worth the effort.

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  6. John Sheehan

    I think it’s good that WCP and other publications have taken a stand and won’t let their photographers be exploited by a horrible contract that gives away their work. The idea of using amateur cell photo images seems like it could hurt pro photographers, by having people doing for free (or for a much lower price) what we do. It could also help them, when people see that the cell phones can’t match a Nikon or Canon with a long telephoto lens in the hands of an artist who knows what they’re doing. I can’t decide which way it will go.

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  7. Ralph Hightower

    With apologies to Doctor Hook and the Medicine Show, I doubt that photographs from the concerts of Taylor Swift or the Foo Fighters will make the “Cover of the Rolling Stone”, much less on the inside of the magazine.

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    • Ricardo Consonni

      I’m sure all that the Foo Fighters want is having amateur photographers, and that is what they’ll get! Blurry pictures taken with an Iphone.

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    • Dave Haynie

      I do lots of amateur concert shooting… you can do far better than an iPhone. At many venues, you could probably bring in a Sony RX1 for that matter… the venues are not camera experts, and define “professional camera” as “one with a removable lens”.

      Of course, you can see the logical end of this, as professional individuals or press refuse to shoot unpaid, and resort to amateur photography, is that the venues eventually clamp down even harder on the gear they will allow for use by amateurs, too. Eventually it could just be blurry iPhone shots, or whatever someone manages to smuggle in.

      I’m not even sure what they’re after with these contracts, photos and video are out there. My daughter were really happy to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers at a festival (Firefly) a few years back. I had some decent P&S shots, but when the band released a high quality mixing board download of that show, I thought…. hmmmm. I was able to piece together the entire concert from footage I found on YouTube. Just for us, of course. Some of it really terrible, some of it clearly not just shot on an iPhone, with good IS or a tripod or something.

      The pros will always have better gear, better vantage points, etc. But contracts that just don’t allow a working professional individual or organization to profit from their artistry are immoral, and will shut down much of that photography. But I suppose there’s always someone else willing to take those shots…

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  8. gerald Besson

    This is like biting the hand that feed you

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  9. David Faulkner

    I see the music industry is as creative as ever in finding new avenues of corruption and dirty deeds.

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  10. Drew Valadez

    This shit storm seems to of burnt the pro photogs lively hood more than T-Swift and Beyonce and the likes. Those singers/bands still get to go home and sleep with their bank accounts north of 6 figures, regardless of what the photogs do or say, yet a photog just lost their paycheck for the week or got totally screwed out of other rights/funds that could of been their bread and butter.

    I wonder how long till the gates open up for “No Camera” policies at events and stadiums to turn into a:

    “Take pictures and text it to #8675309 to enter!*” *All rights will be handed over to venue and artist for full use.

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    • Dustin Baugh

      Well pro photogs aren’t being banned from shooting, just certain organizations aren’t sending their photographers. Other photographers are still free to sign over all their pics and goto the show.

      But it is drawing attention to how strict the contracts are, and in T.Swift’s situation the hypocracy of an artist saying “Don’t steal my work” then stealing another artist’s work. Whether or not anything comes of it I don’t know but I think it’s good to lift the curtain on the horrors of these contracts for the world to see.

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