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News & Insight

Taylor Swift’s Rep Responds To Photographer, But Another Contract Stipulation Revealed

By Hanssie on June 23rd 2015

If you missed the drama in the photography world yesterday between pop music powerhouse, Taylor Swift and photographer Jason Sheldon, click over here and catch up – we’ll wait for you. The TL;DR version is that Swift called out Apple for their policy of not paying royalties for their just launched music streaming service during their 3-month trial period. Apple reversed their decision after Swift’s open letter and threat to pull her 1989 album from the service. In response, photographer Jason Sheldon wrote his own letter to Swift, calling her a hypocrite for her own image usage policy.

taylor-swift-holding-apple

Image via screenshot from Taylor Swift’s ‘Blank Space’ video

As an update to yesterday’s article, a UK rep for Swift responded in an email to Business Insider that the standard photography contract that Sheldon referred to was “misrepresented.” The representative wrote that the contract “clearly states that any photographer shooting ‘The 1989 World Tour’ has the opportunity for further use of said photographs with management’s approval,” and added “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. Every artist has the right to and should protect the use of their name and likeness.

Sheldon responded via his Twitter page,

twitter-jason-sheldon

**UPDATED 6/24/15** Jason Sheldon sent me a link to his official response on his blog where he discusses Swift’s representative’s comments. You can read that here.

To add fuel to the fire, PetaPixel reported this morning that the contract Sheldon posted was outdated, citing a UK photographer, Joel Goodman, who tweeted the following updated contract from Firefly Entertainment (Swift’s company) – highlighted portions by Goodman:

Taylor-Swift-photo-contract

This contract not only highlights the areas that Sheldon took issue with – the one time use policy and that the contract gives Swift and Co. permission to use the images for “any non-commercial purpose,” but Goodman also highlights a portion that states if the photographer does not comply with the terms of the contract, representatives of Swift “may confiscate and/or destroy” your equipment. Goodman obtained this contract through two photographers wishing to remain anonymous. He told PetaPixel, “Some photographers fear losing income if they get blacklisted for speaking out against these kind of contracts.

Another report noted that Swift allegedly makes a habit of posting professional images of herself on Instagram, though one photographer pointed out not always with permission or proper credit.

taylor-swift-1 Taylor-swift-2

This story is starting to gain more and more media attention. Swift seems to be the type that is pretty savvy in protecting her brand, so I’m curious to see if she herself will respond as publicly as she called out Apple. Stay tuned. I’ll grab the popcorn.

What are your thoughts on the latest developments? Would you sign a contract with these stipulations? Discuss in the comment section below.

About

Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at www.hanssie.com. Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Nashaine Johnson

    The hypocrisy is strong with this one.

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  3. cherestes janos

    Some people just don’t care about contracts, rights, etc. :-(

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  4. Peter McWade

    People fill the pits in hopes of the one huge payoff. They don’t give a shit about contracts. They want the one good payoff. The pits limit a photographers talents. If you are at a wedding you don’t sit in a pit taking photos do you?

    Thank you very much, I’ll pass on the music business contracts.

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  5. Elaine Rawn

    Sorry but Taylor Swift has no clue what photographers sign or don’t sign. Let’s face it, what do you think the chances are that she even knows any of the wording in this particular contract? Not a chance. That’s why she pays the big bucks to her legal team and management team to handle all of this. Yes you can say well she should know, realistically, not a chance she knows for something as “simple” as this contract in her big world.

    I imagine she is now reading through it and figuring out how to respond and if she really is as passionate about protecting her own “copyright” you may find that she responds publicly and apologizes for not being in better tune (no pun intended) with things people are made to sign. She will probably apologize to the photographer and have her legal/management team change the wording for the future. IF not then I will call her a hypocrite.

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    • J. Dennis Thomas

      And you definitively know that Taylor Swift has no knowledge of this HOW? Because you’re guessing?

      I had people say the same thing about the Foo Fighters. “Oh I bet Dave Grohl doesn’t even know”. Well, I know his guitar player and I was told flat out that Dave Grohl knows EXACTLY what’s going on.

      Considering that FEI is Taylor Swift’s company and her father owns her record label, you can just about be damn sure she knows what the hell is going on with her business even when it comes to photo releases.

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    • Elaine Rawn

      And you know she knows definitively HOW? Because David Grohl’s guitarist ratted David Grohl out to you? (And why would he do that I don’t know…but ok.)

      I am not a “Swiftie” by any stretch of the imagination so please don’t think my defense comes from that. I just don’t think we should linch someone because we THINK we know something. I can hear your emotion in your reply to me and maybe you won’t acknowledge this to be true, but let me ask you this. Do you believe that these big name stars read every single piece of paper pertaining to their tour? So you can honestly tell me that you think TS has read every contract of every stadium she has ever performed at? Every promotional company contract? Every staging and lighting company contract? Every employee contrAct? Every photography contract? Every piece of camera crew contract? Sorry not a chance. If she’s a control freak maybe but even then I just can’t see it. That crap is boring to read. I would imagine if anyone knows what this crap says it’s her dad/management team.

      Again I do believe she will come forward and apologize and possibly apologize for not being aware. My hope is she personally will now read the contract and make changes in respect to the artists that cover her concerts with camera in hand. If she doesn’t then she’s an idiot only out for herself, which makes her no different then
      most people, but completely takes her credibility away of this fight she’s fighting with Apple.

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    • J. Dennis Thomas

      First of all, Swift’s management HAS replied. So if she didn’t know then she knows NOW. And still no apology.

      And I take offense that you say Dave Grohl’s guitar player “ratted” him out. I was talking with him about it because he asked me why I wasn’t at the last show they played in Austin. And as for WHY, well, I’ve known Pat since before he linked up with Grohl in Nirvana, long before he was in Foo Fighters. He’s a friend of mine and has been for longer than he’s worked with Grohl.

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  6. Josh Johnson

    Hey Hanssie!

    Just to update.. as of yesterday Taylor’s team started to credit photographers when their photos were reposted to her Instagram channel. So while her camp may not be making a statement about this, they’re definitely reading and listening. Step in the right direction! While it definitely is a shame that my photo won’t receive credit on her feed, I am glad that I was able to help shift the tide for future creators to receive the credit that they deserve.

    Josh | The Kentucky Gent
    http://thekentuckygent.com

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  7. Chelsea Higgins

    I love T. Swift and the strides she’s been making for musicians in the last year. I wish her empathy and understanding extended past her own line of sight, though. Ultimately it’s our jobs as photographers/artists to educate – not just famous musicians (whom get outed a lot), but everyone – on copyrights. And if we’d just stop giving away the farm for free we might actually sell the milk! … Or something like that.

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  8. Sean Harrison

    Doesn’t like Apple giving her music away but is totally happy to give away Photographers photos she doesn’t Own.
    Taylor Swift
    Hypocrite

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  9. Shu Yen Kor

    If they paid the photographer(s) superb rates, no complaints.

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  10. Birdie Breeze

    In a nutshell: All the pro concert photographers can shoot 2-3 songs and then they have to leave so all the iPhone operators can take over and finish shooting the whole rest of the show. Apple killed off pro concert photography along with management.

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    • J. Dennis Thomas

      I’ve never seen a iPhone photograph that can rival any photos I’ve ever taken with a DSLR. iPhones are not a threat.

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    • Kim Farrelly

      iPhones not a threat? Ask the Chicago Sun Times ex-photo staff what they think. Though I do get what you are saying J. [posted that to the wrong reply oops]

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    • J. Dennis Thomas

      They hired some (not all) of those photographers back when it was clear the iPhone coverage was shit.

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    • J. Dennis Thomas

      Also, keep in mind we’re talking concert photography here.

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    • Kim Farrelly

      Well they hired back four, out of the 28 fired, on a three year contract & mostly thanks to union intervention. I wonder if they where asked to train reporters on the ‘iPhone photography basics’ they all got?

      Speaking back on concert photography, I to think a DSLR/ILCE will provide a better chance of getting the shot but times do change and not always for the best. People will push things to see what they can get away with and there are enough people who will let it happen so it does.

      Look at what 45sound (fanfootage.com) have done in terms of media at concerts. Allowing anybody with a smart phone to be a videographer but matching the footage to professionally recorded audio.

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  11. Bárbara Herrnsdorf

    This issue just highlights AGAIN what a hypocritical dolt she (and her “team) is…

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    • Kim Farrelly

      iPhones not a threat? Ask the Chicago Sun Times ex-photo staff what they think. Though I do get what you are saying J.

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  12. John Cavan

    What disturbs me more is how many people don’t see the connection between her complaint with Apple and her attempts to get total control of the photography work. I’ve had people tell me that it’s totally different because her image is all she really controls and so she should be entitled to it. I had comments that taking pictures of celebrities isn’t art and so they shouldn’t be compensated.

    The moral of the story to me is that, apparently, being famous means you’re morally right…

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    • J. Dennis Thomas

      Most people that are siding with her on the image front are “Swifties” (please kill me if I ever lose my identity as a human being enough that I have to look to a celebrity to give my life validation).

      Anyway, hand those assholes a camera and see how easy it is to capture a great concert photo. I was covering Darius “Hootie” Rucker for the venue last week and a “photographer” was sent from a magazine with a D70 and a kit lens shooting in “green camera” mode.
      After the first two bands she was near tears. None of the other photographers could tell her what settings to use (it was a pack of hacks) and when I was up shooting venue stuff in the mezzanine someone mentioned I had written a book on concert photography. So when I came down she pleaded with me to help her so she didn’t blow her assignment. Luckily I also wrote a million Nikon guides so I knew the menu system and I had her camera set up to get decent shots in minutes. I saw the photos and they were just terrible. Thanks to me they weren’t a blurry mess like her earlier shots, but they were badly composed and very unflattering to the artist.

      Letting hack photographers shoot makes us all look bad, because the PR people always remember the shitty photos and the good ones are quickly forgotten.

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  13. Ralph Hightower

    With Taylor Swift’s Draconian contract terms, there’s no way that I would sign that contract. Did Taylor originally do country music? I only listen to Classic Rock and still bent out of shape that a pop singer like Michael Jackson is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

    There should be a Pop Music Hall of Fame. Rock and Roll ain’t Pop Music.

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  14. Josh Johnson

    Thanks for including me in this article coverage – definitely appreciated! I totally support Taylor for standing up for indie artists, but she should stand up for ALL indie artists, not just indie music artists.

    Josh | The Kentucky Gent
    http://thekentuckygent.com

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  15. Timothy Going

    I’ve not been a swiftie since she made her transition to pop music. That and her pulling her album from spotify which punished only her fans to me. I understand her wanting to make money, but a major artist like her actually makes a good chunk of money on royalties and has the power to negotiate her payment rate. This is another thing about her that is just made her more annoying to me.

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  16. Tim Caisley

    Confiscate or Destroy the tech that contains the images…….right girlie, I present you with a baseball bat…..have at The Cloud!

    Hell, I don’t know where the server space I rent physically is, good luck with that!

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  17. Mike o’dwyer

    Didn’t take long for Apple to change their tune (sorry), so why the damning silence from Swift. I wouldn’t count the unctuous blabbing from one of her brown-nosing PR flunkies, this is something she needs to own rather than hiding behind a minion.

    Wonder how much money she’s made from publicity and PR shots that she’s never paid for that have been used to promote her brand, sell tickets, albums, merchandise. At least the streaming services she whines about pay .0007c per play, which is better than 0c per print or page impression she hands out to photographic content creators.

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  18. Kim Farrelly

    I really like the last clause where EFI threaten to smash all your photography gear & your phone for taking a photo your not allowed and part 4 also where they cover the irreparable harm, damages, injury and expense to EFI & TS. Bet they would over state the ‘value’ of the images then.

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    • J. Dennis Thomas

      What’s funny about that clause it that if they were to enforce it, it would by necessity be AFTER you had left the venue because to violate most of those terms the images would have to be dowloaded from the camera and then uploaded to an unauthorized content site.

      So what is Swift’s management gonna do, come to my house and TAKE my gear? I’d like to see that happen. Here in Texas we have the Castle Doctrine and if they want to come in and “confiscate” my gear, under the Castle Doctrine I can use lethal force to prevent my property from being taken from me.

      If FEI came knockin’ on my door they’d find their representatives looking down the wrong end of a .45.

      Yep.

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  19. Austin Swenson

    It appears that now Taylor has some bad blood with a photographer too… Oh come on, someone had to say it

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  20. Tom Johnson

    When the lawyers get involved i’m just thankful that I just do this for fun. What a headache, I sincerely feel for photographers that have to navigate through the contracts and other BS themselves. I cant even imagine interpreting this stuff without a lawyer of my own.

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  21. Bob McCormac

    I personally would find it impossible to sign a contract like the one from Swift’s entertainment company. She asks “do you see where I’m coming from?”, well Taylor don’t you see where photographers are coming from! It is hypocrisy on Swift’s part. Too bad she can’t see the other side of the coin.

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    • Hanssie

      I’m willing to bet that people sign because 1. they don’t read it through or 2. they feel they have no choice. I’m sure publications have people lined up ready to sign the contract if you dont.

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    • J. Dennis Thomas

      They typically spring these contracts on you as you’re walking into the photo pit. Your mind is elsewhere because you’ve got to jockey for a good position and your adrenaline is pumping. You don’t really have a chance to read the thing. The PR person is yelling for everyone to hurry up and sign it. They put you in a high pressure situation and basically coerce you into signing something.

      I’ve been doing this for years, so I usually know to ask beforehand or I know which artists have these kinds of contracts and I don’t take the gig. But I’ve been at festivals walking into a pit where they’re handing out these contracts 2 minutes before the artist hits the stage.

      It’s a very shady practice, from the contract all the way down to the way they shove them down your throat last minute.

      Artists that are above board and have minor clauses email you the contract upon approval to shoot and you can read it over and choose. That’s few and far between though.

      Another weird thing is that I’ve been approved to shoot shows for wire services, but they have a single use policy. Wire services are all about licensing. If Swift’s PR approved me for a wire service then they shoot themselves in the foot because they take responsibility on vetting the outlet the photographer is shooting for. If they took you to court over multiple uses they’d lose because they let you shoot for an entity that’s sole business is to provide content for multiple sources. As far as I know she hasn’t approved in wire services in a long time any, so it’s just hypothetical.

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    • Eric Mazzone

      J. Dennis Thomas, any contract signed under duress is void.

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    • J. Dennis Thomas

      @ERIC MAZZONE

      You’d have a hard time proving duress to a jury full of people that have never been corralled into a photo pit with 49 other photographers knowing that they have to get the best shot in a short period of time. Try explaining to a judge all of the complicated thought processes that are going through your head, “where’s the best spot?”, “what focal length should I use?”, “what’s the lighting going to be like?”, etc…

      It’s not exactly duress, but it’s pretty damn close. And any pit photographer that I know ain’t gonna have the dough to drop on an attorney that can take on Swift’s legal team.

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  22. Jesper Ek

    Hypocrisy …

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  23. Trevor Dayley

    I find all of this super interesting! Will be fun to see how it plays out.

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    • Hanssie

      It’ll keep me busy writing that’s for sure. Keep the drama coming… :)

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