Taylor Swift’s recent open letter win over Apple’s royalty policy has been met with cries of hypocrisy from professional concert photographers acquainted with her live photo policies — claims that Swift’s reps have deemed misrepresentation.
As seen in the release that photographers are required to sign before shooting Swift’s current 1989 Tour (below), her management sets very specific guidelines for how the photos can be used. The main sticking point among professional photographers seems to be that an image can run the first time without approval from management, but any reprint must be approved. As UK photographer Jason Sheldon highlights in bringing these policies to light via his own open letter, reprints in wire services or other (mostly print) publications are a big part of how live photographers make money. Having to get approval each time this happens slows down the process.
Though these policies are strict — like when Swift’s management claims the right to destroy a photographer’s equipment should he or she break on-site policies — they do not require photographers to forfeit their copyrights of the photos, though Swift is able to use the photos free of charge as she likes. Lady Gaga, for example, had a contract that asked photographers to sign away the photos’ copyrights to her.
“[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.” “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.”
Currently taking a social media victory lap over her Apple win for “the little guy,” Swift herself has not spoken on the photo policy. Full contract below.