An Open Response To Taylor Swift’s Rant Against Apple

Jun 22, 2015

Jason Seldon

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

An Open Response To Taylor Swift’s Rant Against Apple

Jun 22, 2015

Jason Seldon

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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[Editor’s note: Taylor Swift letter to Apple saying that it is unfair for artists to go unpaid, seems to have made make Apple take a (somewhat limited) U turn and Apple’s swiftly responded (no pun intended) with a promise to compensate artists.]

Dear Taylor Swift,

I have read your open letter to Apple where you give your reasons for refusing to allow your album ‘1989′ to be included on their forthcoming Apple Music streaming service. (For reference)

I applaud it. It’s great to have someone with a huge following standing up for the rights of creative people and making a stand against the corporate behemoths who have so much power they can make or break someone’s career.

For instance, you say:

I’m sure you are aware that Apple Music will be offering a free 3 month trial to anyone who signs up for the service. I’m not sure you know that Apple Music will not be paying writers, producers, or artists for those three months. I find it to be shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company

It is shocking, like you say, that any company should expect to exploit artists.  It’s not on at all.

This is not about me. Thankfully I am on my fifth album and can support myself, my band, crew, and entire management team by playing live shows

Ah..  but this is the thing Taylor, you say it’s not about you – but clearly it is.  Why else would you make such a public statement about how you’re standing up for the rights of new artists and bands?  Are you really supportive of other artists?

These are not the complaints of a spoiled, petulant child. These are the echoed sentiments of every artist, writer and producer in my social circles who are afraid to speak up publicly because we admire and respect Apple so much. We simply do not respect this particular call.

And this is the echoed sentiment of every professional photographer.  Some are afraid to speak up for fear of being blacklisted by management and PR companies who seek to control the public perception of their talent..  For every artist that is in a secure enough financial and influential position to stand up against the likes of Apple without having to worry that Apple will publicly block your ability to earn a living from their iTunes market place, there are hundreds of professional concert photographers who don’t enjoy that security..  they don’t have the voice you do, and they don’t have the public favour that you have when it comes to demanding fair rights for their work, and they have a much higher risk of being prevented from working in future, not just at your shows, but any show which is connected by the same promoter, venue, PR, or management company.

Which brings me to the point of this open response to you.  I admire your message, I really do.  I just think it loses the gravitas it rightly deserves, because of this (click here for larger version):

2011-concert-photo-authorization

Now..  forgive me if I’m wrong, but if you take points 2 and 3 in that contract (which is provided to Photographers who need to agree to those terms before they are allowed to do their job in photographing you for editorial outlets), it appears to be a complete rights grab, and demands that you are granted free and unlimited use of our work, worldwide, in perpetuity.  You say in your letter to Apple that “Three months is a long time to go unpaid”.  But you seem happy to restrict us to being paid once, and never being able to earn from our work ever again, while granting you the rights to exploit our work for your benefit for all eternity….

How are you any different to Apple?  If you don’t like being exploited, that’s 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?

Photographers need to earn a living as well. Like Apple, you can afford to pay for photographs so please stop forcing us to hand them over to you while you prevent us from publishing them more than once, ever.

But I say to Apple with all due respect, it’s not too late to change this policy and change the minds of those in the music industry who will be deeply and gravely affected by this. We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation

With all due respect to you too Taylor, you can do the right thing and change your photo policy.  Photographers don’t ask for your music for free.  Please don’t ask us to provide you with your marketing material for free.

Time to stop being ‘Mean’.

Sincerely,

Jason Sheldon

It seems the circumstances of the contract aren’t clear to some readers, who assume this is a work for hire contract presented for being hired and/or paid by Taylor Swift.

That is not the case.. As a freelance photographer, I am asked to photograph concerts by publications.  I get paid IF and when the photos are used, not for turning up to a show and shooting it.  Therefore, if the newspaper has a bigger story to run and doesn’t have enough room to use my photo, I don’t get paid.

When I’m not allowed to do anything else with the photos, that means I’ve incurred expenses to work, which I can’t recover.  Therefore preventing me from licensing my photos to more than one publication, or even (as later versions of this contract stipulate) preventing me from using the images for my own self promotion in a portfolio etc while they can use them without licensing the usage is highly unfair and unjustified.

It’s not the same as being paid a buyout for the job. Newspapers don’t pay big sums for concert photos.. Barely enough to cover expenses. That is why we rely on future sales to other publications.

UPDATE: Photographer Joel Goodman tweeted a more recent and even more restrictive contract which prevents portfolio usage, and also permits them to destroy your equipment if they are unhappy.

About The Author

Jason Seldon is a professional music photographer based in Birmingham, England. He runs the Junction10 had have photographed many of the leading voices in the music industry, including Neil Diamond, George Michael, Bruce Springsteen, The Police, Eric Clapton, Billy Joel and Elton John and others. You can see more of his work over at Junction10, and follow his twitter here. This article was originally published here and shared with permission.

[lead image via wikipedia]

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42 responses to “An Open Response To Taylor Swift’s Rant Against Apple”

  1. Kevin Etherington Avatar
    Kevin Etherington

    It alway amazes me how people with money want more and are willing to take from those with less. Photographers should always have sole rights to any image they take whether they are hired for a job or not.

    1. Jenn Grover Avatar
      Jenn Grover

      That just isn’t true. Photographers should have the rights agreed upon. No one is forcing them to agree to these terms.

    2. Katie Avatar
      Katie

      But they are hired for a specific reason, which is to take pictures of Taylor performing. The photo would be worthless if Taylor wasn’t the subject of it. If they don’t like it, they don’t have to agree with it…

    3. Norman Fox Avatar
      Norman Fox

      Bull.Shit.

    4. Kevin Etherington Avatar
      Kevin Etherington

      If photographers were paid what they are supposed to be paid they wouldn’t have to sell themselves short just to make ends meet

  2. Richard Prince Avatar
    Richard Prince

    Thank you! I’ve always said taking photographs of other peoples art and making a profit out of it is perfectly fine!

  3. Ralph Hightower Avatar
    Ralph Hightower

    Wow! What a rights grab of photographs!

  4. Joe Spowal Jr. Avatar
    Joe Spowal Jr.

    Well guess what!!, her rant worked, because apple changed their tune!!

  5. Kevin Etherington Avatar
    Kevin Etherington

    I bet she doesn’t change her tune

    1. Travis Alex Avatar
      Travis Alex

      I see what you did there.

  6. Meredith Crews Avatar
    Meredith Crews

    Laura Saylor another side of the story. I found this interesting.

  7. Matthias Hombauer Avatar
    Matthias Hombauer

    Great article! I started a twitter project where concert photographers from all around the world tweet to her asking why she is using these rights grabbing contracts. ‪#‎artistssupportartists join and tweet to her Congrats @taylorswift13 changing apple, but why do you use a rights grabbing contract for photographers? #artistssupportartists

  8. Norman Fox Avatar
    Norman Fox

    A lot of people think that because they own a camera, they also own the world. Taylor Swift isn’t a “person”she is an event. If I were in charge of this event I would pull out every single legal tactic available to protect the success and true intent of it from being weakened or skewed into something other than what it is. If you are having a problem with how you are being paid, talk to your employer; I just can’t see how your grumbling would be Taylor Swifts concern?

    1. Dead_C Avatar
      Dead_C

      You have no idea what you’re talking about. The only point that you’re leaning on is the idea that she’s not the employer paying the photographer, yet the release that the photographer is forced to sign provides Swift ownership of their images to use as she sees fit. That’s the point, she’s not paying them, yet she’s taking their work and using it to, indirectly, make money for herself. If she’s being put in a position where she’s forced to ask Apple not to use her work to promote their service and make money off of her efforts without compensating her, then that means that she obviously doesn’t have any actual legal recourse, or else she would take it and all of the other musicians that are complaining would be taking it. But, just because she wrote a song, I guess she thinks that she owns the world. Apple isn’t her employer, so… if she has a problem with how she’s being compensated — or, rather, not compensated — shouldn’t she just speak with her label?

  9. The JennCast Avatar
    The JennCast

    Sorry, this is apples and oranges here. She has a right to control how images of her are being used while being taken at her performances. It is really no different than having to meet the terms and conditions of pro athletes and the NCAA or NFL. She isn’t asking you to shoot the photos. Apple is asking musicians to provide the music.

    1. Travis Alex Avatar
      Travis Alex

      She does, you are correct, but that’s not really what he’s arguing. He’s simply pointing out that she is being a hypocrite.

      Just as such, Photographers also have the right to sign up or say no, and after reading her terms, I would never work for her under those terms, or anyone for that matter with those terms.

      1. The JennCast Avatar
        The JennCast

        Yeah, she actually isn’t being hypocritical. If I understand, these are photographers shooting for magazines, not fir herm and you are right, they don’t have to agree to those terms.

        1. Travis Alex Avatar
          Travis Alex

          By telling the photographers under her contract they can no longer be paid aside from the one time? Yes she is. Her argument is exactly the same.

          I won’t argue with you. You are entitled to believe what you like.

    2. Dead_C Avatar
      Dead_C

      She actually is forcing photographers to provide her with ownership of their photographs, not just preventing them from being used elsewhere. Most artists DO NOT have rights grabs releases like this and the only time that I’ve ever agreed to be part of one or allowed a photographer writing for my own outlet to make that decision themselves, even in the most extreme cases, it has only limited usage of the photographs to that article/review for which the photographs were taken. Even in those cases, the artists didn’t then include the additional stipulation that they would be able to use and benefit financially from your work, on top of it. If they had, I flat out refused. The idea that you can’t even post them in an online portfolio as an example of your work, is absurd. But, then again, nobody has any respect for the actual work necessary to to this work, because, in their mind, it would be a dream to be able to photograph a Taylor Swift show. Yet, somehow, the idea of performing for millions of blindly adoring fans doesn’t seem like a dream? They feel bad for her and feel like it’s real work that should be compensated? Sorry, but there’s a lot to this that is hypocritical.

      Apple is a big name, so most artists aren’t in the position of denying them usage of their music, because they can’t afford to be shut out from it and any other platform that they are connected to which they could potentially earn an income through. Taylor Swift is presenting herself as the brave voice who is in a position to stand up and use her voice for those smaller artists. Without news outlets and coverage, nobody would even know who Taylor Swift is. If the radio didn’t play her music and nobody created her videos or filmed her and put her on television, she doesn’t have a career — you could say otherwise, but it’s her fanbase that made her what she is and that is, typically, not the same fanbase that seeks out truly independent artists without major visibility, statistically speaking,. She’s exploiting her own power and visibility to create a contract that basically demands that concert photographers provide her with her press images for free, or else they will not be able to cover her show and provide her with free advertising. She can get away with it, because she’s in a position where she’s a big name and believes that most people will fold, just to be able to do so. The concert photography industry is crumbling for these very reasons and because people buy into that mindset; any random clown with a cell phone camera, no skill, and/or a DSLR from Costco will work for free. The more that they perpetuate this idea that quality work isn’t necessary and doesn’t deserve compensation, in the internet age, the harder and harder it is to make a living at it. She’s part of an industry where music is also easily obtainable for free and that’s why it has become more and more difficult for musicians to survive. I’ve interviewed world famous musicians and some of them are sleeping on other people’s couches, because they can’t get paid for their music anymore and they don’t create a product that sells out giant stadiums without some celebrity/money machine behind them. Swift is the exception, because, beyond any artistic output, she’s in the bracket of “celebrity” where she is compensated simply for her image and an ability to be paid in campaigns by corporate sponsors, through merchandising that image, etc. That image is provided, quite often by photographers.

      Why should anyone buy her album, when you can download it for free? The perceived value of music, both artistically and as a product, have plummeted, simply based on that idea that music is free and the efforts of artists don’t need to be compensated. Her actions by allowing such a blatant rights grab in her contracts isn’t apples an oranges; it’s an incredibly similar thing. She’s backing struggling photographers into a corner and saying, “I’m huge. Do you want to be a part of this thing or not? If so, sign your rights over and work for free and I will own your work, which I will use to promote myself, or else the credibility of your job and the publication might not only take a hit, but if may affect your ability to work with any artists remotely connected to anything that’s remotely connected to me.” It’s the same as not being featured on Apples platform, then being removed from iTunes for non-compliance, etc. It’s using your power and influence to muscle out those who do the work yet have little to no voice to speak out for fear of repercussion. If you want to be a public figure and control which outlets cover you, that’s one thing, and it’s still bullshit. But, often times, different outlets have to sign different releases. If Rolling Stone told her to piss off and refused to sign it and Pitchfork and anyone else with any sway — and I’m sure that many have and haven’t been forced to adhere and have been given adjust contracts (that actually happens, sometimes) — then she’d be stuck. If Apple folds, it’s just an industry move, whereing they’re paying Taylor Swift off, so that, at least on a public level, she is endorsing their platform again. There’s a lot of people defending those who don’t need defending. She doesn’t need defending anymore than Apple does. It’s a sham and the only people who would step into her corner are corny superfans or people who simply do not understand the actual manner in which these things operate.

      1. The JennCast Avatar
        The JennCast

        “She actually is forcing photographers to provide her with ownership of their photographs, not just preventing them from being used elsewhere. ” – Wrong. They willingly sign the contract. No one is forcing them to shoot her. Go shoot another celeb and stop crying about the free market.
        FWIW, I am not a “corny fan” apart from “Shake it Off” I couldn’t tell you the name of one of her songs. I wouldn’t sign to shoot her based on those conditions – but I 100% support her right to have them. Who is creating the event for the photographer’s to shoot? She is. It’s her right.

        1. Dead_C Avatar
          Dead_C

          If you want to shoot the show, she IS contractually forcing you to provide her with ownership, otherwise, potentially risk your livelihood — I don’t know what your job is, but imagine refusing to do something that you have moral reservations about and see how well that goes over, especially in the service industry. Her and people like her are putting a vice grip on photographers, which is contributing to severely wound the industry. People like Terry Richardson are considered artists, because of his celebrity status, but the work of concert photographers is consistently minimized, because you have no grasp of what it entails. YOU simply don’t know, but you have an opinion about it, albeit a misguided one. If she doesn’t like the Apple service, then nobody is forcing her to agree to provide her music, either, yet she is crying about it very publicly and having people like yourself run to back her up. When someone questions her tactics, however, you attack them. You might not know all of her music, but you clearly subscribe to her image (again, and image finely crafted by a team, including photographers). The questions raised in this article are incredibly valid. There really is no difference, except the photographer doesn’t have a brand for you to defend.

          Also, Taylor Swift is not creating the event, there are a lot of people behind that and none of that work is her own, and none of those people should go uncompensated for the work that they do to make her the figure that you support so blindly. It’s Apple’s right to deny anyone who doesn’t want to agree to their conditions of use with their music in the same way. The only reason that there will be any potential change in this format is because she has a huge voice. Still, you criticize photographers for bringing their concerns publicly and asking for fair treatment, more or less implying that they are dead beats asking for unfair rights that they do not deserve. The only reason that it’s apples and oranges in that respect, is that photographers really don’t have much of a voice, so they’re easy to ignore. You have no respect for their efforts and their art, because you see it as simply a picture of someone else, but that’s not only sheer ignorance, it’s offensive. But I see how Swift is a victim in all of this.

          I interviewed David Berman back in 2009 — he’s a tremendously influential artist that you’ll probably have to look up on google — and he made the following comment to me, “People seem to spend a lot of time defending the feelings of the rich and powerful.”

          You’re not a photographer, so you minimize what it entails. I know this, because if you were, you wouldn’t be pushing this perspective that you have. Of course, you may consider yourself one and you’d probably give thousands of dollars to some clown to take pictures of your wedding, because “that’s what it costs.” Would there be any less work involved in they shot Taylor Swifts wedding? No, of course not, but the benefit is that it’s Taylor Swift and a lot of people seem to believe that she has some additional value that surpasses all other human entities. The work, however, is the same. But there’s a benefit to shooting Taylor Swift and not your services, correct? The benefit is that those photographs have a whole other level of value, but what value? You can’t sell them. You can’t even put them in your online portfolio. She can, however, use them as she sees fit, to promote herself and continue to earn from them.

          It’s the internet and the fact that you don’t truly understand the various aspects involved in a situation such as this is never going to prevent you from continuing to comment on it, regardless of how off base you are. You’re never going to learn something new from those that are more involved and experienced in it and say, “Oh… thanks for explaining that to me. I was looking at it this way, because I didn’t really have any personal experience with this industry or understand that.” You commend this highly influential and powerful woman who, at least partially, builds her career off the backs of endless faceless workers, promoters, photographers, stylists, managers, publicists, etc. etc. etc., yet believe she’s the talent, so she’s the driving force behind her career and who provides people with an opportunity to photograph her, who should appreciate the ability to work for free. It’s delusional. She has a right to call out Apple and is commended for it. Photographers ask her to please stop affecting their ability to support themselves and they’re out of line.

          1. The JennCast Avatar
            The JennCast

            Ah, but no one is forcing you to shoot the show. Bottom line – you have no investment into all that goes into putting on a concert. It’s her event, not your event. She allows you to shoot it – and you don’t like her terms and conditions. Too bad. You can either choose to shoot the show with her conditions or not shoot it. One of the first things I learned about the photography business was that if you don’t like the terms and conditions of the contract, don’t sign it and say, “No”, to the job. Obviously, you never learned that lesson.

            You seem to have made a lot of misguided assumptions about me, so let me try a few on you. You are like the rest of the far left, feeling like everyone owes you something. You voted fort Obama, and think it’s great to tax everyone else. You are for “free” college education because someone else is paying for it. Life isn’t easy and there is no free lunch. Welcome to the real world.

          2. Dead_C Avatar
            Dead_C

            You avoid the point repeatedly. It’s not her music service and she has the right to refuse their terms and not let her use her album, yet she wrote a public open letter asking them to reconsider their policies. What’s the difference?

            You don’t have an actual point. You’re simply defending Taylor Swift because you’re buying into celebrity culture. I believe that, if you work, then you should be able to get paid for it, yes. Taylor Swift is asking for free photographs, so don’t direct that bullshit toward me, because it’s what you’re endorsing in a nutshell.

          3. The JennCast Avatar
            The JennCast

            Actually, my point was clear – I just believe your point is based on a false premise – that you don’t have a choice. You clearly have a choice – don’t shoot her shows. She didn’t like Apple’s terms and conditions, so she said, “No, thanks.” You should the same and quit trying to ride on her coat-tails. She doesn’t have to permit you to shoot her concerts, at all. She does, but she has terms and conditions. Get over it and grow up.
            BTW, I despise the celebrity culture, but I despise people who insist on something for nothing or claim not fair at every little thing, far more. So, once again, WRONG on your assumptions about me. Not going to waste any more time with lazy people who want something for nothing,.

          4. Dead_C Avatar
            Dead_C

            Your point actually wasn’t clear, because you don’t really seem to have a valid one, and, instead, have chosen to continue to redirect the conversation rather than establishing one.

            The original point that you were trying to make, however, and the one that I’ve been continuing to address from the beginning, is that you claim that there is no parallel between the open letter in this article directed toward Swift and the claims that Swift is making against Apple, yet you’ve never offered anything to refute that, or effectively draw any separation between the two, because there isn’t one. You talk a lot about “assumptions,” yet continue to make them, falsely. You claim that my “point” is based on the false premise that I don’t have a choice, but that wasn’t ever my point, or anything that I’ve ever even implied. At which point did I claim that I was interested in photographing Taylor Swift? I never did, because I never have been. The last interview that I was involved with was with The Melvins. I just finished hosting ticket giveaways for Bootsy Collins and Television (who I’m seeing tomorrow), and went to a Death Grips show on Friday. I couldn’t give less of a fuck about photographing a Taylor Swift concert or promoting her brand, but this conversation isn’t about that.

            Anything that I’m piecing together about your perspectives and ideologies are coming directly from you, and unprovoked. You’re throwing around catch phrases that sound good to you to establish the image what you want people to believe that you’re about, but it’s a false identity, because, in practice, you’re not actually about anything, except for evading any actual progress by readjusting talking points. What’s all of this “I’m against people who want something for nothing” bullshit? That’s exactly what you’re all about, except you divide who’s able to make those requests based on social status and classism. You actually tried to redirect this into a political conversation about Obama and free college out of nowhere. What the fuck are you even talking about?

            So… here’s the point — and try to stay on topic — Taylor Swift has the right to refuse to let Apple use her music (at least, I’m assuming as much, based on her letter, because I have no idea what her publishing looks like, or if it only applies to her new album, for which she’s specified, etc). It makes sense, since there has been increasing controversy surrounding what streaming services mean as far as artist compensation and how it’s wounding the music industry — if artists can’t support themselves, no one will be left to create “art” and music other than those who are part of the corporations, at least on a popular, mainstream level, where it’s widely promoted and monetized. Meanwhile, photographers have a right to not sign an excessive rights grab, the likes of which there has been increasing controversy surrounding them in recent years, because of what it implies for the photography industry — if the artists (in this case, photographers) cannot support themselves, then the art will not exist. There is no difference between the two, which is my point. Where it seems the disparity lies is in the area where you do not seem to value live photography in the same way, so you’re dismissive of it, yet there are endless classic photographs that have affected all of our lives, are instantly recognizable, and have been valued as fine art as long as the artform has existed. My point is that you are undervaluing both the work and the skill involved and reducing that work to “riding” her “coattails,” when, whithout that work, there are no coattails and, I for one, don’t really see anything desirable in what Taylor Swift is selling, although I’ll agree that it’s marketable. Meanwhile, you’re overvaluing what Swift is providing to the equation.

            The point of this article, as well as the point that I’ve been making, and the point that you were trying to refute is simple: Taylor Swift is right in refusing to agree to Apple’s terms for use of her work, because what they expect of her is unfair, but photographers are also justified in choosing not to agree to her terms, because they are excessive and unfair. Apple feels that they can get away with their business plan, because of the leverage behind them, and Taylor Swift knows that she has enough power to go back at them head on, as she’s proven. Likewise, Taylor Swift believes that she can demand a rights grab for free press images that she’s not willing to allow the photographers any rights to, because of the amount of leverage that she has — a smaller act, in fact almost all other acts, don’t bite those hands, because the promotion of their images and band benefits them and they realize that. The difference in this scenario is that, while the photographers can also respond that they don’t agree to those terms, they have a much smaller voice and nothing will likely come of their “open” letter. To make the situation worse, their responses are greeted by people like yourself calling these hard working photographers “lazy” and people who want something for free. Something that you “despise,” yet the only person in this scenario expecting anything for free, is Taylor and her management. Apple wanted something for free, she said that she wouldn’t stand for it, and you commend her. Taylor expected something for free, this article points out the hypocrisy, and, somehow, you come out the other end claiming that the photographers asked for something for free? The reason that there is not progress here, is because you’re delusional and your belief system that you believe that you are presenting isn’t even real, you’re sinking it yourself. Apple asks for something for free. Taylor responds. “YAY! You’ve stood up for artists rights.” Taylor asks for something for free. Photographers respond. “NO! IT’s YOU GUYS THAT WANT SOMETHING FOR FREE!” That doesn’t even make any sense. “Well… they could just refuse to sign it.” Yeah… I know that. They have. That doesn’t change anything.

            Taylor Swift didn’t simply say “No, thanks.” That’s the whole point of this entire conversation. If she simply said, “No, thanks.” then this article wouldn’t be here and this conversation (if you can call it that) wouldn’t even be occurring. What she did was make a statement to the world — aka, an “open letter” — putting Apple on blast, under the guise of looking out for the little guy. She didn’t simply say “No, thanks” she said that she wouldn’t agree to it and went on to explain why she felt that their platform was unjust, how it was effecting the people behind the work, and how it would wounding the entire industry on a larger scale. Now… there are endless photographers who have gotten these requests for their images and simply said, “No, thanks.” I mean, these guys actually just said, “No, thanks” didn’t sign and moved on. They weren’t all writing letters attacking her or even concerning themselves with it any further. They likely went to their editors and hoped that they’d understand why they couldn’t agree to those terms. Most concert photographers aren’t getting paid, because there is no budget for it and the reason that there isn’t a budget for it is because, unlike in the past, they’ve begun to believe that there is no need for a budget, because it’s been undervalued to that degree. It’s not unlike how msuicians are forced to focus on making money touring, these days, because the sales aren’t the same as they used to be for physical media — Swift and other super rich celebrities are obviously the exception to that rule. Rights grabs like Taylor Swifts are part of that problem, because the only people that will agree to them are incredibly green photographers and super fans that will work for free, under the misguided belief that it will give them exposure (often also build their portfolio, which, in this case, they can’t even use this for). So, the more those people offer to shoot for free, the less and less paying jobs there are out there (why pay when we can do this for free?). If you want to make things political, it’s the same reason that jobs are going over seas, lack of regulations allow you to pay people shit in foreign countries, so why pay anyone to work in this country, where you can’t put children to work and you have to allow them to take breaks, etc., even if the quality is being depleted for the very same lack of quality control and regulation.

            But, beyond any of this, this article wasn’t written in response to a rights grab that Taylor issued. This article was written in response to her own letter and to say, “Hey! Wait a minute. You’re pissed off at Apple for expecting you to get the shaft on compensation if you want to be part of their new music platform, but you’re the same person who has been expecting us to get the shaft if we want to photograph your shows, while doing our own jobs and it’s more than a little hypocritical.” Then, the same case is being raised by the photographers, agreeing that she should say no, just as they are turning down her contracts, but asking her to reevaluate her own policies, in the same way, based on how it’s affecting those involved. All that this article does, is what she’s claiming to do. There’s no difference. You say there is; I know there isn’t. The point is that it’s hypocritical. Both people could say “no, thanks.” Both people have. One chose to write a widely publicized open letter on top of that, which condemns those actions. This article responded by pointing out the parallels. Where they intersect has been established, how they don’t hasn’t. The only differences that you’ve pointed out are class issues, issues of notoriety, issues of celebrity culture and fame, and they are all in favor of the celebrity and against the only people who are actually saying that nobody should ask for something for free. All that you’re doing is spitting out terminology that you’ve picked up somewhere, claims of laziness and wanting handouts, yet that’s also, all that you’re really supporting through your comments, other than the claims that you aren’t.

            You believe that Taylor Swift is talented and that her voice matters. I don’t, other then when it comes to public shaming other financial powerhouses. You believe that photographers do nothing but take pictures of famous people and that it isn’t work. I know that isn’t the case. These aren’t the fucking paparazzi. If all artists refuse to allow Apple — a company that has made Taylor Swift millions by monetizing digital music — to use their work, then the platform would fold (most aren’t in the financial position to do that, but that’s another topic). Likewise, if all outlets refuse to photograph and cover Taylor Swift because of her outrageous demands, she disappears. It doesn’t matter who you support in this situation, the situations are still the same. Let’s view this from an angle where she legitimately was just trying to point out to Apple something that they might not have considered and make a positive change that would benefit artists and that’s why it changed. What’s wrong with this article pointing similar issues out and explaining that rights grabs like her own are affecting another industry? If your claims that you despise people asking for things for free, then it doesn’t matter whether or not someone can say no? People can always say no. What’s offensive is that expectation, the one that you claim to despise. But, what’s even more offensive is this ridiculous bullshit that you’re spewing that devalues the work that these people put in and discounts the fact that they have a right to a voice in asking her to take a look at these policies and how they might be affecting another aspect of the industry that she’s connected to, in a negative manner.

            But the real point in all of this is that you just seem like kind of a shitty entitled person, blathering on about how other people are entitled, when you don’t really seem to grasp what that concept even means.

          5. Ann Mehrman Avatar
            Ann Mehrman

            You say, “I despise people who insist on something for nothing.” The agreement from Firefly that “grabs” the licensing rights from the photographer is doing exactly that. The photographer works for a publication that wants the concert images. The photographer has invested time; money; and creative energy when photographs are created and have a “copyright” to those images just as other producer of creative works such as writers; musicians and artists have their intellectual property protected by copyright.
            The ASMP is a great source of education for photographers and consumers who work with photographers. Here is a link to information about licensing:
            http://asmp.org/tutorials/licensing-guide.html#.VYkSeGA8LyY

  10. Richard Tyler Avatar
    Richard Tyler

    I don’t work for nothing so why should she? Yes she earns mega bucks but so what, learn to sing if you have a problem with that

    1. Dead_C Avatar
      Dead_C

      She shouldn’t. And she doesn’t. Everyone agreed with her. The question is why photographers should take press photos for her for free. Her rights grab doesn’t just limit the usage of the photographer, it claims the rights of those photos for her to use to promote herself or do anything that she wants with them in the future, while simultaneously telling the photographer that they have no rights to those images and the work that they’ve done. It’s the same as the label owning her publishing and Apple making money off of it, while blocking her ability to present it elsewhere, and those things happen too. There are artists that aren’t even allowed to sing their own songs at shows, because the rights have been taken away from them. This issue was never that people disagreed with her, because the article doesn’t refute that point. In fact, this article does agree with her, so much so, that they’re pointing out that the exact same thing is happening to them, because of her own policies. Just as she’s written a letter to Apple to reevaluate their policy, this “open letter” is asking her to reevaluate her own.

  11. Travis Alex Avatar
    Travis Alex

    Very observant of you. Well played sir.

  12. Katie Avatar
    Katie

    I don’t get it…you are taking a picture of Taylor Swift, and you want to sell it. But would the picture be worth anything if it wasn’t of Taylor? So she is making you money, and you’re complaining about it? Also I doubt that Taylor writes the contracts for photographers, this sounds like something the author should criticize her management for.

  13. Marc Roberts Avatar
    Marc Roberts

    I bet she’s never seen the agreement that FEI makes the photographers sign. Still, will be interesting to see what she does about it if she’s ever made aware of it.

  14. Doug Avatar
    Doug

    Section 3 says that Swift or her representatives have to get written permission from the publication to use the photo(s). If the publication gives unlimited rights to the photo(s) in violation of your agreement with them, your beef is with the publication, not Swift or her company.

  15. tickticktick Avatar
    tickticktick

    I really don’t see these two issues as equivalent. In the iTunes case, she’s saying she should receive payment for her work. In having photographers sign contracts, she’s saying merely that she is agreeing photographer x can take photos for magazine y, but limiting the use of those photos to that magazine. The photographer is not being cheated, as the photographer should be getting paid by the magazine.

    1. Dead_C Avatar
      Dead_C

      I understand what you’re saying and where the confusion lies, but hat’s not actually the case. The rights grab says that she has rights to their images and that she effectively owns the photographers work, without compensations, so that she can benefit from it, basically using them as press images from that point forward, while the photographers can’t even put them in their own online portfolio to present an example of their work. There are various sorts of contracts like these and some, as you say, do limit the usage of the images to a one-time use for that particular article or review that they are taking it for. Those ones are just kind of shitty, but not completely over the line. This contract, on the other hand, is one of the rare instances where the artist pushes even further to actually claim rights to the photographers work and to use it to their own benefit on top of it.

      1. tickticktick Avatar
        tickticktick

        Actually, it says her right to use them is “subject to the written consent of the publication,” not that she can use them as she sees fit forever. In other words, she’s making deals with the magazines and it’s up to photographers, if they’re concerned, to make sure their contracts with the magazines don’t allow this, if they so choose.

        And, I do see your point about portfolio use, but there are reasons for such things. Remember when Jill Greenberg took shots of John McCain for Atlantic Monthly and then used the worst ones intentionally on her website? That’s the sort of thing this is meant to prevent.

        Is it overreach? Perhaps, but I believe image protection is the guiding factor, not theft.

  16. Steven Avatar
    Steven

    Why don’t you tell her you’re “ending your contract with her, like a break-up” and maybe she’ll write and sing a song about you?

    But seriously, nice effort. I doubt it will change her mind (or even register on her radar) as these people inhabit a totally different planet to the poor proles they have take their photos, chew their food and use as footrests. If nothing else it’s further evidence of the rampant hypocrisy that exists in the industry.

  17. John McMillan Avatar
    John McMillan

    I have to throw in a counter argument to this debate. Now, I’m not at all familiar or involved in professional photography (so feel free to correct me if I’m too far out of line), but I am a film producer and screenplay writer, so regarding the topic of copyright and intellectual property, I am quite familiar. From what I understand, the “rights” belong to the creator, whether they be the author, painter, designer, or any maker of artistic work, hence it is called Intellectual Property. It belongs to its owner, thus it is protected by law against theft, of any sort. Now, the courts have determined that you can’t copyright an idea, only its expression. Dealing with photography, if you took the picture, it belongs to you, you own that expression. However, IF the photograph incorporates any Intellectual Property that does not belong to you, you DO NOT OWN the image. The law goes so far as to say that you cannot even take a picture of Target’s brand logo from their parking lot, and then resell that image. The same is heavily applied to paparazzi; they can take pictures of any public figure on public property, but if they step on to any private property, they no longer own that image. I would imagine, that for her concerts, the Taylor Swift brand paid and developed the show, thus they have sole ownership of all intellectual property of that show. If you’ve experienced much more freedom in the past at other concerts to resell images from that show, then perhaps, it was leniency on behalf of those brands that they gave you free licensing to those images, but in the context of copyright and the eyes of a courtroom, I’m confident Taylor Swift owns anything coming out of that concert, and any profit of those things belongs to her.

    1. Nathan Allen Pinard Avatar
      Nathan Allen Pinard

      Yes, it’s not public. It’s a private venue. Photographing her is the equivalent of recording her concerts, which also are not allowed (but much harder to catch). I’d be curious to see the other concert contracts.

  18. Mons G. Reinertsen Avatar
    Mons G. Reinertsen

    Yes, those poor celebrity photographers.

  19. sid Avatar
    sid

    I don’t get it!

    “Photographers don’t ask for your music for free. Please don’t ask us to provide you with your marketing material for free.”

    You are not at all helping her make her music. But, she is the photograph you are taking. You are taking a picture of her, at her event, at her concert, singing her own song. Forget all this, You are taking HER picture; of course she has the right to use it anywhere. You don’t like it, go take pictures of other people who would agree to not being able to use photos that they are in. Sounds like bull shit.
    I see you tried really hard to make a point here; but, with all due respect it is non-sense.