Update – It appears Taylor Swift may be closer to the wording on this contract then we originally thought. Read our update here.

Taylor Swift continued her crusade against online music streaming services by penning an “Open Letter To Apple” in which she states that it is unfair, and even exploitation, to not pay musical artists for the 3 month free trial that Apple is offering to new subscribers. While I don’t know Taylor Swift’s music from a hole in the wall (Get off my lawn!) I do agree that I think the music streaming business model is flawed. The real winners in this battle are us, the end user, who get access to almost every song every recorded for $10 a month. Remember when you used to pay $15 for a CD, only to drop it on the pavement and scratch the hell out of it that same day?

Well, this post isn’t a debate on whether Swift is right, it’s a report coming from the blog concert photographer Jason Sheldon of Junction 10 Photography, who calls out Swift for being a hypocrite when she claims that it’s unfair to not pay an artist for their work. Sheldon produced a contract that he had to sign when photographing a recent Swift concert.

Taylor Swift Apple Photographer

Contract copy provided by Jason Sheldon of Junction 10 Photography


Sheldon’s issue with Swift arises from points 2 and 3 of the contract, which essentially states Swift and her promotion company can use the photos exclusively for whatever use they see fit, without compensation, while Sheldon is not allowed to re-license or even use the photographs in any self-promotion, most importantly, his portfolio.
Sheldon states on his post:

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….

Sheldon later expands on what he means by being paid once.

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.

And tearing a page from the Swift playbook, Sheldon finishes his open letter in striking fashion.

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

While contracts aren’t my specialty, Sheldon does bring up some strong points in regards to Swift’s contract that is given to photographers before her concerts.

Chances are, Swift has no idea what this contract states, as this isn’t part of her job description of “Shaking It Out” (Ok, I lied about not knowing her music). But as Sheldon’s title states, shouldn’t those living in glass houses not throw stones?

What are your thoughts? Is Sheldon right to call Swift out?

Oh, and for the record, the Swift rant was successful, as Apple backtracked on their stance to not pay artists for the 3-month trial.

  • rinconx6

    They are both right. Being right doesn’t matter, of course. In each case the big gorilla wins (in both cases it is Taylor). Doubtful if Apple would have backed off for Ashley Monroe. Doubtful if Taylor’s team would back off for anyone less than Annie Leibovitz.

    • guitargodkc

      What She did was get Apple to pay everyone, big and small! They are going to pay artists who get strwamed, at a different rate during the trial period and increase to nearly 72% after the trial is over in the US.

      • Hagbard Celine

        We have no fault with what she did with Apple. That’s a good thing. BUT she is taking photographers contents and using it for free, which is exactly what she doesn’t want Apple doing to her music.

      • Designerific

        You think Taylor really cared about the “little guy” in her open letter to Apple? As so many have argued in Taylor’s defense, the artists are free “not to sign” the contracts. And since they’re free to walk away, they have no business complaining, right? With that logic, Swift has no business complaining either. She was free to not have her work on Apple Music. BUT: The reality is that Swift very BADLY wants her music up on Apple. She’s just using a public temper tantrum to affect the outcome of her negotiations. If she were to use this tactic without making mention of other artists, she’d look like a selfish schmuck. Trust me, this was all about Taylor’s wallet.

  • David Weber

    Not really. I am a professional photojournalist and studio photographer. For each and every photoshoot and model I hire, I require a contract similar to this be signed and dated. When I do concert photography, the respective companies ask me to do the same thing, but this is a per- event basis, and not a one-time thing. If Swift and this Firefly company is asking people to sign a one-time contract with a photographer to get unrestricted access to any material they create, that is illegal under copyright law.

  • TwoCentsatLeast

    Um…it’s “Shake it Off”`. Is this a goof? Or what?

    • Michael Bonocore

      I told you I don’t know here music! 🙂

      • Marilyn J. Broadbent

        You should! Taylor is an awesome singer! She is well grounded ans she loves her fans! Even at my age, I admire her. I agree with her having control over anything that concerns her. It is her right!! Its her photographs and her right not yours to profit and control what is put out in the public eye. I strongly don”t think your going to get any sympathy from the Swifties or any other fans that have an artist that they love.This is the artist job for profit, not yours to infringe upon!

  • Dan Jackson

    As someone who started out shooting editorial the real culprits are the magazine publishers. They’re essentially asking event photographers to shoot on spec.

    Photographers don’t get paid for their time and only get paid per image if the magazine publishes their photos. That’s BS. One solution is to be on retainer with the magazine so that, if they want to get their money’s worth they will commission and publish your work. But that will apply to covers and feature stories mostly. It will seldom extend to concert or event photography. It’s a bush league industry.

    Better publications keep photographers and writers on staff. None of this pay per image nonsense. Many are even unionized.

    This photographer shot himself in the foot the moment he agreed to shoot on spec in the first place.

    As for whether or not it’s legal for Swift Inc. to demand the rights, if you’re sucker enough to sign this contract, it’s legally binding. The law here in Canada defaults to ownership belonging to the photographer. Unless they sign a stupid contract giving away those rights.

    • Hagbard Celine

      “the real culprits are the magazine publishers. They’re essentially asking event photographers to shoot on spec.”

      Unfortunately you’re absolutely wrong. The fault lies with the PHOTOGRAPHERS. They are willing to shoot on spec or even worse, for free tickets. And the photographers are glad to do it. They even ASK for it.

      If some kid comes and offers to mow your lawn for free are you gonna PAY the other kid $20 to do it? Probably not. Even if you know the free mow may not be as good, free is free. And in business free means more money for the bosses at the end of the year.

      • Dan Jackson

        Fair enough. Wait, the internet calls that victim blaming no? 🙂

        In my own defence I also said this: “This photographer shot himself in the foot the moment he agreed to shoot on spec in the first place.”

        • Hagbard Celine

          I use to make a living from concert photography. I shot for Rolling Stone, SPIN, AP, and many more. I used to get PAID.

          Now all off those rags are using low-budget hacks with day jobs and digital rebels.

          I’m the victim. So, no victim blaming here!

          It’s a sad state of affairs. I rarely shoot anymore because it’s not worth it. Even my backlog photos don’t make as much since Getty undermined the market and slashed prices to pennies on the dollar and started taking larger percentages. I used to get a 60/40 split in MY favor, now it’s the other way around. And some photographers are only making 20%!!!

          • Michael Bonocore

            Hagbard, yeah, the lawn mowing kid is a good analogy. That is the state of affairs in the industry today. Why should publications pay for content when so many young photographers buy into the “exposure” promise?

            As for the legal aspect, I the photographer has never stated it’s illegal. He knows the contract he signed. He knows he had a choice. The real point of the post is that she is making a point about injustice to artists, but at the same, paying that same injustice to other artists.

          • Hagbard Celine

            Her contract is 100% legal I guarantee that. That’s not something I dispute at all. I’ve been handed dozens of these things.

            I urge all photographers NOT to sign these contracts and to refuse to shoot these artists. BUT why are all these people music photographers today? They want free access to their favorite bands and acclaim from their friends on facestagram. Most “music photographers” today could give a rat’s ass about the money.

            The very FIRST photo gig I ever took that involved music was shooting press kit photos for a band signed to Warner Brothers. They didn’t dick around. They offered me a decent price and I took it. I expected to be paid from day one. Even though the band were my friends and I liked them nobody expected me to work for free. I was only 16 years old at the time. Hardly a seasoned pro, but good photographers weren’t that easy find when we were shooting film. Hell, I even printed the 8X10 glossies in my high school dark room.

          • Emily

            To be honest – yeah, don’t sign into something that you don’t like. The contract does look unfair but if you don’t want it then don’t sign it. I’m also a freelance photographer but I don’t take projects that don’t agree with my own conditions. Contracts have to be mutual.

    • Junction10

      The problem is that many publications are getting rid of their entire picture desks and photographers. They’re turning more toward UGC (User Generated Content) which is not only going to lower the quality of the publication and thus reduce the amount advertisers are willing to spend, but it fills the publication with images that are not vetted for accuracy, authenticity, or authorised.. We’ve seen publications get caught out using Photoshopped images, or images supplied by readers that infringe copyright.. but accountants are steering the ships and don’t see photographers as a valuable part of the business, when they can harvest content from the internet for free.. therefore, there are very staff photography jobs any more..

    • guitargodkc

      As my post says, he was paid a fee for a service. If I recorded tracks in studio for her album, I wouldn’t be entitled to royalties because I performed on her album, no matter how often it was sold, streamed or played. I did a job, I got paid! I wouldn’t own my performance on her album!

      • Hagbard Celine

        You clearly don’t read for comprehension. Swift never paid anyone. A third party paid him, but Swift gets the benefit of the use of ALL the photographs he took, not just the ONE he got paid for, and she doesn’t have to pay a dime or even credit the photographer.

        So your analogy about playing on her record doesn’t hold water. Because SHE NEVER PAID FOR ANYTHING.

        How about if Swift said “hey, you’re more than welcome to come play on my album”. You go in record the song and she says, “thanks for the tasty licks bro!”. And then makes millions off the song and you never got a dime. Just an invite. Then to add insult to injury you’re not allowed to tell anyone that you played on the song and you’re not even credited on album. THAT is what Swift is doing.

      • Truth Creative


  • Ray Fischer

    It’s a fair criticism. I look forward to a response.

    • Designerific

      The media has already taken notice. Certainly at the level to be noticed (at the very least) by Taylor’s “people”.

  • Hagbard Celine

    He’s not the only photographer to call her out. Many others have as well. And LOTS of photographers have been calling her out about this rights-grab contract since long before this Apple fiasco.

    There are so many artists that have these types of contracts, Foo Fighters is a notorious one and even my former favorite guitar player Brian Setzer is a rights-grabber (I actually got into a physical confrontation with him about it, when he pushed me saying, “you don’t know the business”.

    I know that musical artists don’t sign copyrights of their songs over to the labels they sign with. And where do these rights grabbers even feel as if they have done ANYTHING to deserve the copyrights to a photographer’s images. If the company that paid me to photograph her asked for the rights and the price was right I would do a “work for hire” contract and let them keep the images. But Swift and Grohl and all of the other rights-grabbers aren’t even PAYING the photographer for their time and effort.

    So in effect the only compensation you get for turning over your copyrights to Swift is that you are allowed to photograph her for 3 songs (usually from a mile away at a soundboard). That’s IT. You don’t even get the rights to show your images on your website.

    The one funny thing about the Foo Fighters rights-grab contract is that I have made so much money from them because I shot them BEFORE the contract. I have some of the few licensable images of them. Suck on that Dave.

    So if any of you have pre-contract photos of Swift put them out there and sell the hell out of them.

    Funny thing about these rights-grabbers, they take money away from competent music photographers and many of them turn to paparazzi to make money. So in effect she’s creating a worse environment for herself. Personally I’d like to jam my flash in her face and scream inane questions at her to piss her off for a $1000 TMZ photo rather than shoot her crappy concert for $150, which is what cheap ass Rolling Stone pays their stringers.

    • Michael Bonocore

      Ah man, you just ruined my buzz by telling me Foo Fighters may be guilty of this too. I love them 🙁

      • Michael Bonocore

        And completely agree with your last paragraph. You get what you paid for. You want free, you get crappy photos of yourself when you are supposed to be looking awesome.

      • Hagbard Celine

        It’s not that they MAY be guilty, they ARE guilty. Pat is a friend of mine from pre-Nirvana/Foo days and Grohl knows about it and doesn’t care.

    • guitargodkc

      Photographers don’t have to sell a product. They are welcome to license their work, but then they end up taking what’s available to them. As a customer and a performer, when I hire someone for promos, I own those shots or I use someone else! I don’t license my session on someone’s album and don’t expect to be paid except for the job I was hired to do.

      As for TMZ, why would they buy your shot for a grand when Swift will give the a shot for free? Artists who don’t make scandals control the gossip rags by cutting off the middleman. I know several who used to be on the front pages of the scandal rags, but are no longer by using this tactic. Those who are on most often like the attention and fake bitch about it to up their exposure. No publicity is bad publicity, unless you’re Lindsay Lohan!

      • Hagbard Celine

        You’re not really making any sense. An image is indeed a product and the end result of a service. Swift’s contract prohibits further licensing or even use on the photographer’s website for a portfolio. Furthermore it allows Swift the right to use the photographs however she wants to for free. Now remember Swift didn’t HIRE the photographer. She just granted permission for the photographer to take photos. So your point about “hiring” a photographer is moot.

        As for you paying your photographer and you “owning” those shots, well first of all, you’re a nobody. Who wants photos of you anyway, but you? And secondly if you didn’t have the photographer sign a “work for hire” contract regardless of what you think, legally the photographer owns the copyrights.

        As regards to you not expecting to garner more income after the session is over only tells me that you’re a second rate musician. See, I’m a professional musician as well. I’ve worked MANY sessions and if you’re not getting points on the back end, well, you’re just stupid. You think Chet Atkins didn’t get points for each and every record he was on? You’re a hack bro. You should get a better agent.

        Now to address TMZ. Why would they pay $1000 for a photo when Swift would give them for free? Because TMZ is a paparazzi rag. They don’t want some pre-approved PR bullshit photos. They want photos of celebrities looking UGLY and acting irrationally. That’s why they send people out to hassle celebrities. They CREATE scandal you dolt.

    • Kim Niemi

      Actually, sometimes artists DO essentially sign rights over to the label they record with – if the label offers the publishing contract as well.

      • Hagbard Celine

        Yeah, back in the 1950’s.

  • Steven Hauptman

    I shoot concerts for a local paper in Detroit, MI and have been seeing this standardized form more and more. It’s bullshit in my opinion having to send in all the pic’s that may be used before I send them to my editor for preview and may use any or all pics for no compensation to photographer

    • Hagbard Celine

      Here’s a little tip to give you wiggle room to stop them from being able to use your images for anything substantial.

      Turn in small, low quality JPG files to the artist management and strip the metadata. They have no way to prove that you shot at a higher resolution. If they ask for the originals say “that’s what size I shoot at”. They can’t get a search warrant to check your hard drives. You haven’t committed any crime.

      • guitargodkc

        Typically a contract like this will have minimum standards set. If what is contracted is not delivered, the photographer is not entitled to compensation, and still can’t use the shots. As a performer, and session player, we have similar contracts. We get hired to perform on an album, we are paid a fee, but we don’t own the performance, we don’t receive royalties. If you shoot as a pro, but short sell yourself, that’s on you. Musicians get paid a set scale. It doesn’t matter if we’re there 10 minutes or ten hours, we get paid X per track or song. We do that job and go on to the next session.

        • Hagbard Celine

          Dude. I’ve read hundreds of these contracts. Not ONE has a standard set for image quality. And again, you are forgetting that Swift is NOT compensating or hiring the photographer. She can’t set a standard on a product that she didn’t commission. if I only need a websized image for a photo gallery I can send over something 500px wide by 72dpi and Swift can use it on the web, but she will never be able to make a poster, billboard, or even a decent print out of it.

          Photographer’s don’t have a scale. And professional photographers like me that USED to get paid real money and get actual access to the artists aren’t getting paid shit, not because we are shorting ourselves, but because the industry has become overrun with hacks that will shoot for free.

          And I pointed out before, if you’re a session player and you’re in demand you can get points on an album and receive royalties. Hell, I should come out to where you are and start working sessions for free stealing your gigs. I guarantee that I can outplay you and I already have a lucrative income from photography and playing live.

          • Designerific

            Even better, slap a watermark with your name on it with a big ‘ol circle-c added on for good measure. The UK rep says that they’re not taking your “copyright” away, just your right to use or publish the photo). So let them know who REALLY took the low-rez photo you provided!

  • The Flash

    I think Sheldon is just pissed he cant use up skirts and nip slips without her permission

  • Samantha D

    That contract is bullshit. It’s not fair and should be revised. If Swift took the time to read & respond to Apple she should do the same for this photography contract- if not then that speaks volumes of her concerns & character.

  • Penlight

    I understand your case. She is a business woman and she is running her business. You could have protested your contract, but did you have the cloudt to uphold it? She fights not just for herself, but for a lot of other artists as well. She is changing the rules. God bless all the “Taylor Swifts” that come after her and plan to stand up again Goliath.

  • Penlight

    I understand your case. She is a business woman and she is running her business. You could have protested your contract, but did you have the clout to uphold it? She fights not just for herself, but for a lot of other artists as well. She is changing the rules. God bless all the “Taylor Swifts” that come after her and plan to stand up again Goliath.

    • Designerific

      Jason Sheldon (the original protester) has gotten enough publicity from his open letter that he’s been given the clout. It’s been picked-up by mainstream media now.

    • butters

      all these business fetishizing junior ayn rands are such deformed creatures arent they?

  • johnTnash

    Three ways many creatives get paid – licensing fees (spec work), contract work (you get paid over a given period of time for x work which we will own), and work for hire (we hire you to do task x, we pay you for your labor, and we own the work). I’m a designer, and it’s the same deal for us regarding marketing materials surrounding any given campaign. If you freelance, most often it’s “work for hire.” You do the project, and you get paid for doing the project. You turn over your work and you move on. It that situation, photography enters into a creative workflow driven by both planned and unplanned marketing opportunities. It is an unpredictable process – that’s why such agreements are based on “work for hire” and not licensing fees. It’s standard industry practice.

  • Seekers2

    You’re signing on to do a job. You know the conditions before you start so no surprises. You have a choice, do the work with no complaints or walk away.
    Be an adult not a cry baby, there is no comparison here.
    She decided to walk away and Apple made a new deal. Both acted like adults.

  • BillToo

    The best way to stop the grab is to just stop signing up. If taylor swift or any other artist doesn’t like it…Well, their opinion won’t affect world peace.. There’s one place they can put that opinion and if it doesn’t fit, try folding it.

    • Designerific

      Artists, photographers and designers can all plead guilty to having weak backbones when it comes to valuing their work. Oddly enough, photographers USED to be the best at protecting the value of their work. The problem is that technology has reduced the barriers to entry, and while rarely are the newcomers as well-trained or gifted, their sheer numbers (and desperate willingness to work virtually for free) have greatly reduced the earning power of the truly great and talented professional photographers of yesteryear.

  • LJRhodes

    Sheldon is absolutely right. Swift should be ashamed. I’m pretty sure she’s not, but she should be.

  • KST

    This article is absurd.. Even IF Swift simply allows photographers to shoot her show, upon request, but does not allow them to profit off of her image, that should still be her right. Swift’s tour belongs to her. Swift’s image belongs to her. Swift’s music belongs to her. Would you allow a private recording studio to profit off of the artist recordings they capture? What if that studio said “you can come here and record and we won’t charge you because the publicity would be good for us.” It is absolutely no different. Even IF these photographers are not compensated, each of them has decided that the publicity of being able to say “I am a tour photographer for Taylor Swift” is worth it (and they are undoubtedly right). To call Swift a hypocrite for not wanting someone else to profit off her image is ridiculous–in fact, is is 100% consistent with her stance against Apple. (ASSUMING the article is true), in BOTH scenarios Swift is trying to prevent APPROPRIATION of what belongs to the artist-whether it is the image or the music.

    • Designerific

      Of course Swift has the right to control her own image. So she should HIRE A PHOTOGRAPHER (one of her choosing) and then own all of the images he or she produces. That’s what “work for hire” is. You hire someone, pay them, own whatever creative product they produce for you, and then you have them sit with you for ten minutes after the show and have them release whatever photos you want to the local media. But as our good photographer friend here points out, Ms. Swift is using her power (as a star musician) to avoid paying for any of the material these photographers shoot, but still retain the ownership of the images (remember, images created by a photographer and a camera are distinctly different than one’s “likeness”). She “allows” photographers (working for the media) to come in and shoot, but then only allows them to get paid for what the publication (of her choosing to begin with) publishes. Meanwhile, she gets to keep the hundreds of photos shot of her while on stage. Sell them as posters, put them on album covers, etc. Perfectly legal, but morally wrong (as compared to what she just demanded of Apple).

      • Mikefulton

        Contrary to what people think, this isn’t a ploy to get free photos. You can bet she does hire her own photographers, and you can reasonably bet that the number of photos actually used by her as a result of these agreements can be counted on the fingers of one hand with plenty to spare.

        This agreement is for the scenario where photographers are coming to her and asking to exploit and profit from *HER* trademark, namely her image. She has zero obligation to do this. She says, “OK, but with these restrictions, and I get to use them too if I want.”

        I would agree that the terms of the agreement aren’t good for the photographer. But they’re not being forced into it.

        • Designerific

          This is local media we’re talking about. Photographers sent out (mostly) by the local news and certain magazines (but as “spec” photographers… Not even freelance getting a guaranteed paycheck). She doesn’t have to let any media in at all. But she DOES want the publicity that these media outlets generate. But she doesn’t want the photographers selling the shots fifty years down the road. She wants to tightly control each shot taken of her in her controlled setting. These photographers never make millions off of the artists they follow. I’m just saying “Relax Taylor”. These people are most certainly a part of the machine that allows her success. Let them make a few bucks.

          • Mikefulton

            I would imagine there are legal precedents for not allowing more relaxed terms. There have probably been situations where images got sub-licensed and used in ways that were quite unflattering to the artist.

          • Designerific

            Such is the folly of trying to perpetually control everything in your universe. I have friends who tend bar at a local concert venue. When she is in town (unlike other famous acts), she insists on a fully closed-set environment… For the whole facility. Meaning that security must keep all non-concert-related people outside until her rehearsals are over. A huge security undertaking.

          • Hagbard Celine

            What happens is that concert photographers can get fed up with artists like this not allowing them to license our work further to make a few extra bucks. Keep in mind as concert photographers posting unflattering images does us more harm than good.

            But when we lose out on potential money because Swift is giving our images away some photographers say “screw it” and they turn to paparazzi work. Then they start jamming cameras in her face and screaming at her to intentionally get unflattering results. She’s pissing off the very people that want to take GOOD photographs of her and pushing them to the paparazzi side.

            Seriously, paps make WAY more money than concert photographers. But concert photographers typically have morals and standards of what work they want to represent themselves. If she keeps taking away concert photographer’s money making abilities they will turn on her.

          • Mikefulton

            So, what you’re saying is, artists should let these photographers do whatever they want with their trademark, because otherwise they might become paparazzi. Ok then…

            The artists aren’t taking away ANYTHING. The photographer didn’t have any inherent right to exploit the artist’s image. The artists are just not GIVING them what they want for free.

          • Hagbard Celine

            There’s no point in talking to you about this. You obviously don’t know anything about anything.

            Also I hope that’s not your real photo in your avatar because you kinda look like a child molester…

          • Mikefulton

            Funny… I was thinking your avatar looked like a comically inept villain.

          • Mikefulton

            Funny you should say that, because I was thinking your avatar looked like a comically inept villain.

          • Hagbard Celine

            Very perceptive. I guess we’re both right.

  • Brit

    The problem I have with his point is that photographers are commissioned to take photographs. If they weren’t hired to do so, they – in most cases – wouldn’t be taking the photos in the first place.

    Whoever commissions them then reserves the right to stipulate that the photographer – who is providing a service – is not allowed to use those photos for whatever said photographer sees fit. That is every person’s right if they have hired a photographer – not just famous people, but ordinary people as well. And I know ordinary people who have expressly asked photographers not to include their pictures in said photographer’s portfolio. That’s not actually that abnormal.

    Also, he’s saying he should get paid every time the photos are used expressly because she’s famous. Had he been hired by the family down the street, he wouldn’t demand payment for every copy of the family portrait that they gave to their friends, would he? No.

    Expecting payment for photos that she now owns is ridiculous. Photographers and musicians are two different creatures, and therefore have different sets of rules, regulations, and limitations. To compare this to Apple Music not initially intending to pay musicians for their material is an obvious publicity grab, but not even remotely valid. They are two different things entirely.

    Him demanding payment for further use of photos by Swift and her team is like…a mechanic demanding further payment every time you show a friend the work that they did, or a carpenter demanding further payment every time you sit on the deck he built.

    The real world just doesn’t work that way. And, to be fair, if Mr. Sheldon really had such a problem with the fact he a) wouldn’t be able to use the photos for self-promotion and b) wouldn’t receive further payment if said photos were to be used again, he could have refused to sign the contract. He could have withheld his services, like Taylor was going to withhold her latest album from Apple Music.

    He, however, did neither of those things. He willingly signed the contract.
    That kind of means he needs to stfu.

    • Hagbard Celine

      You obviously have a tenuous grasp of how licensing and usage of photography works and really need to read for comprehension because you aren’t even making any f*cking sense.

      If anyone needs to STFU it’s you.

      • Brit

        Oh, wow, look at you. Aren’t you supposed to be an adult? 🙂
        I find it amazing that you’ve posted over half a dozen perfectly fine comments on this thread, but that mine apparently threatens your security so much that you must resort to tedious high school tactics.
        Also, everything I wrote above is grammatically correct…therefore, if it doesn’t make “any f*cking sense” to you, I believe that you, in fact, are the one that needs to re-evaluate your reading comprehension skills, my dear.

        My grasp of licensing and usage is fine. The fact of the matter is that he still signed a contract, knowing full well what it meant. He wasn’t forced to sign it, and he therefore doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on.

        Sure, it’s unfortunate that he isn’t allowed to showcase the photos in his portfolio – but, by the same token, Taylor has a right to stop people from profiting off of her image without her consent. She has an image and a brand to protect, and wanting to do so is a smart business plan. And, yes, some legitimate photographers may be inconvenienced, but all of this “rights grabbing” as it is referred to has well-established precedent.

        Again, it may be unfortunate…but there have been instances where it has been proven to be necessary. And yes, it is a shame that legitimate photographers are also being handed the same contracts, but other photographers have proven that there is a need for them. This is the real world. Sometimes the bad apples give the good ones bad names. It happens.

        The moral of the story, though, still comes down to the fact that Sheldon WILLINGLY SIGNED A CONTRACT that allows said “rights grabbing” to happen.

        So, again – if anyone needs to stfu, it really is him. He’s in a bed of his own making.

        • Hagbard Celine

          You’re blathering on about the family down the street makes no sense. No the photographer doesn’t need to collect when they give the image away to friends or family, BUT if the family decided to give the image to a stock photo agency or a company to use in an ad or whatever they WOULD have to pay. Also “my dear”, he didn’t sign the f*cking contract. He’s just objecting to it. As he has every right to and every other self respecting photographer should as well.

          So STFU.

          • Brit

            I grow weary of your juvenile attempts at insulting me and your atrocious grammar.

            The family down the street is an analogy meant to emphasis the fact that Sheldon would likely react differently to less-famous, ordinary people. He’s targeting Swift because she’s famous, and my point is that there shouldn’t be two different sets of rules for the two groups.

            Also, if you had read the article, you would have read that he had to sign it when photographing a recent concert. The fact that he did, indeed, photograph the concert means that he did, indeed, SIGN THE CONTRACT. The article also references later versions of the contract – which, if he had refused to sign the first (thereby sacrificing a working relationship with Swift and her team), likely means he wouldn’t have received the later versions.
            As a result, he is – by definition – objecting to the contract AFTER HAVING SIGNED IT. And, I repeat, the fact that he signed it means he had no legal leg to stand on.

            So, instead of telling Sheldon to stfu, I am afraid that this time I must tell YOU to stfu. If you’re going to start an argument, love, try to make sure you actually read the material you’re trying to pick a fight over. It will save you from making an ass of yourself next time.

          • Hagbard Celine

            Atrocious grammar? Seriously? That’s just f*cking nonsense.

            Oops, I did make a mistake by not RE-READING the material. In many cases if you are assigned to shoot something by a third party you CAN’T back out of a contract, or you risk losing your job. That doesn’t change the fact that her contract still sucks.

            And as for you, well you’re just a stupid bît¢h. We can leave it at that. Is that juvenile enough for ya?

          • Hagbard Celine

            Jesus creeping Christ. I just realized I was arguing with a NICKELBACK fan. Any opinion you have has now been rendered null and void because obviously you’re retarded. End of discussion.

          • Brit

            I’m so amused that, when you couldn’t browbeat me with your own opinion on this, you had to bring my taste in music into the equation.
            Honestly, I have a very wide taste in music. Some of which, I’m sure, overlaps with your own.

            The fact that you are one of many mindless Nickelback detractors, though, certainly explains a lot.

            For your information, this discussion was going to be over after my last comment…but I just couldn’t resist mocking you for sounding like such a giant fucking imbecile. I mean, honestly…you couldn’t win the argument, so you had to bring personal taste into it?
            How sad it must be to be you.
            Have a nice life, lovey. Enjoy your bitterness. 🙂

          • Hagbard Celine


          • Brit


            I also like a ton of music ranging from the 60s to modern day music…your point is? 🙂

          • Hagbard Celine


          • Brit

            I feel like I’m talking to a two year old.

            Have a nice life, dear.

          • Hagbard Celine


          • Steph Durant

            Let’s all play nice.

            (Although, I have to say, got a kick out of reading you two going at it!)

          • Brit

            Haha, I’m glad to hear it. 🙂

            I’m mostly amused by Hagbard’s thorough disliking of me, as well. I’m glad somebody else was as amused by our interactions as I was.

  • wickedethicist

    The photographer’s argument does not appear to take Taylor Swift’s image rights into account.

    • Designerific

      It isn’t that she doesn’t have the right to control her likeness and image. It’s that she expects people to sign-over their rights to the creative work they produce in order to be granted access to photograph her. She gets not only the content, but also the perpetual ownership rights.
      It’s like being invited to Disneyland, then being invited to shoot 1000 photos of Mickey, handing your camera back over to them, letting Disneyland pick ONE photograph for you to bring home (published just one time — only — in a magazine), and then they’ll keep the rest. And the next month, you notice one of the photos you took has been turned into a Mickey Mouse poster at Walmart. Although Disney most certainly owns the rights to Mickey’s likeness, they most certainly should have to pay the photographer for further use. Swift’s conditions allow the above to happen (if she wishes).

  • Designerific

    If every concert photographer were to tear these contracts up and hold their ground, Ms. Swift would either have to back down, hire her own concert photographers or… become an even hotter commodity to the paparazzi market (and trust me, she doesn’t want that). The more she limits her “legitimate” supply, the more she’ll have photographers hiding in her bushes.

  • Stevieray

    She needs to stop bitching. No one likes an overrated Diva specially hen she is a hypocrite.

  • Hagbard Celine

    Now the non-photographers are chiming in. They have NO CLUE as to how the music or photography business actually works, but they have to come defend their favorite pop icon. They are morons at best and are dragging this conversation down because everything has to explained in simpler and simpler terms, but they still don’t get it.

    I guess I wouldn’t expect a Taylor Swift fan to be very intelligent, but this ain’t rocket science. It’s clear cut rights grabbing.

    • Steph Durant

      One of the many great privileges of freedom…. the “morons” get to say their piece even if it drags the conversation down ….

      … and the “dufuses” get to complain about it.

      Ain’t America great?

  • Mikefulton

    In the Apple Music scenario, you’ve got musicians who *already* agreed to be part of the service because they would be paid, and now they’re being told, no, they’re not going to be paid for the first three months. That’s clearly a breach of the original agreement.

    In the concert photography scenario, there is no existing agreement. The photographer is basically coming to the artist and saying “Hey, I would like to exploit your trademark (i.e. the artist’s image) and profit from it”, to which the artist is saying, “Well, OK we’ll let you do that, but with these restrictions and only as long as we get something from it too, like the option to use the photos.”

    Are they great terms for the photographer? No, probably not. But if the photographer doesn’t like those terms, they don’t have to agree to them. And there’s no is any previous agreement being breached as in the Apple Music scenario.

    • Designerific

      I’m not sure on how those streaming deals are negotiated or structured. I can imagine that most artists’ deals are set through a single “umbrella deal” negotiated by their respective record labels. And I’d imagine that the “90-free-days” term was already understood by all going in. But since Swift carries such a powerful stick, I’d imagine she may very well have the ability to individually negotiate ANY streaming deals (IE, a higher cut of the action). But you raise a good point on the streaming deals with Apple. Swift chose to NOT participate on Apple Music. She didn’t like the deal. But clearly she wants “in” on it. Just with better terms. You’re telling the photographer not to sign a deal that they don’t like, right. So I think the same goes for Taylor. Now Taylor’s only real “leverage” here was in this very clever, carefully planned open letter to Apple. And if she were to post it without (ahem) saying it wasn’t about her (it’s about the Indies, right?), she’d look like the world’s biggest, selfish, schmuck. So in reality, Taylor wants in on Apple’s big new service. She wants it badly. But she (as Spike Lee once said) “Gotsta get paid!”.

  • jedioftherepublic

    Royalties get paid no matter what. It doesn’t matter if Apple gives it’s users three months free royalties get paid. IF they don’t then apple is breaking the law. Also labels are the main reason why these artists don’t get their pay not Spotify, Google Play or Apple. If she wants artists to get paid their worth she should be going after the labels who negotiate contracts with these steaming companies and who nickel and dime their artists. Artists need to learn to read their contracts and not sign them just for the sake of getting signed. Also, she is lucky that her family owns her label. I wonder how they treat their artists?

  • guitargodkc

    Sheldon is acting like Swift didn’t buy his services, which she did. His compensation isn’t contingent on whether or not Swift and her PR group uses the photos. He was paid a fee to shoot a job, but is not allowed to exploit the now purchased product, owned by Swift. He wasn’t working on a per publication basis, but for a fee. This contract it to set ownership of the product, which is being purchased by Swift for a reason. Sheldon got paid! It’s just like if I were to go into the recording studio for Swift and record backing tracks for her upcoming album. For that session I’d be paid a fee, but I wouldn’t be entitled to royalties from the album sales, streaming and airplay. It’s the same scenario. I would not own my performance on Swift’s recordings. If I were, or any session player were, we’d all be very wealthy people, not “Twenty Feet from Stardom!”

    • Designerific

      Swift didn’t pay anyone. She traded allowing a photographer into the show in exchange for publicity / publication in a magazine or newspaper. She thinks that’s a fair trade, and so does the media outlet that sent the photographer. But to shake-down the photographer to sign-away his or her “image rights” to the photo is going too far.
      It’s like forcing her band’s guitar player to hand-over his guitar at the end of the tour so he doesn’t auction it off for being “near her once”.
      Sure, her right to demand it, and the guitar player’s right to refuse, but sheesh!

  • Kim Niemi

    It doesn’t say anything of the sort. It says “subject to the written consent of the publication” Swift can use images – and if the photographer is working for the publication, then don’t they own the rights to the images anyway, not the photographer? Still, that doesn’t mean they’ll automatically grant them if Swift’s team asks. It also says the photographer cannot use the images “without written consent of FEI” – I have a feeling he could obtain that consent for portfolio purposes, as Swift seems to be a pretty level-headed, generous person. However, the fact remains he does not HAVE to sign the contract or agree to any of the terms. Whereas the writers who rely on residuals from Swift’s sales have no say in what happens if Swift decides to put her music on Apple Pay (or anywhere else) and let three months go by without any income to produce residuals. If this photographer has a problem with the way he is paid, he should follow Swift’s lead and set about making changes to HIS industry, instead of calling her a hypocrite for fighting for a better situation for those in HER industry.

    • Designerific

      “Usually” when a photographer is commissioned to shoot work for most any kind of commercial purpose, the situation is that the photographer owns the photos and the rights. The publication or advertising client that hired them in the first place is granted certain publication rights (by the photographer) for either a single use or for a specific period of time. The size of the distribution of the image (IE local vs. global) will factor into the price. Reps (or agents) usually work these details out with the client. If the client wants a “buy-out” (IE, owning the rights), it’s going to cost them. Usually tens of thousands of dollars. That might seem steep to a non-professional photographer, but when one considers that a pro photographer usually owns hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment, had to go to school to learn the trade, must maintain a studio to do indoor shots, etc, it makes a bit more sense. And most professional clients yield some kind of respect to this reality. But Taylor is a bit different. She wants the free publicity that the photographer’s work will generate, but she wants to own the images that are created. That’s not right. She didn’t make them. Should Lee Harvey Oswald’s heirs own the rights to the famous photo of his assassination? I mean, he’s the subject. It’s his likeness.

    • Steph Durant

      All good points.

      But on, “If this photographer has a problem with the way he is paid, he should
      follow Swift’s lead and set about making changes to HIS industry”

      … isn’t that what he is doing here? I mean, do you know for a fact that he has not been working on this for years already, and is now using a current high profile news item to accelerate his efforts?

      I certainly see no problem with this effort on his part.

      • Kim Niemi

        I hear that. I guess my problem is his delivery. Calling Swift a hypocrite seems a little harsh. I’d love to know if he ever used Spotify… 😉

        • Steph Durant

          Well, I’d cut him some slack on that, myself.

          Forbes reports Taylor Swift earned $64 million in 2014. We can reasonably expect that she had the best PR people, management firms, and lawyers review and customize her message before she put it out. And TSwift is a smart lady all by herself (I smiled when chum Selena Gomez recounted Swift telling her that she (Gomez) needed new support and management, if she was continually finding herself to be the smartest person in the room).

          We can also expect Joe Schmuck photographer we’ve-all-never-heard -f has not the same resources and support, and maybe not the same level of experience, intelligence, publicity savvy and street smarts, as TSwift.

          We should hardly have the same expectations.

          Anyways, we can see if TSwift responds. I am thinking with her smarts, and with the smart people about her, we won’t hear a peep on this from her. Not a peep.

          • Kim Niemi

            True. Though Swift is fighting for the income of the writers she works with, who don’t get paid by the millions unless people actually buy albums legally. They don’t get anything from her live performances — which is likely where most of HER millions come from.

          • Steph Durant

            Most of her millions will come from her endorsements.

            TSwift fights for herself first, let’s not kid ourselves. Photog’s aren’t music people, so I’m expecting that’s not her wheelhouse.

  • Designerific

    Interesting development, folks… Yesterday, if you looked at Google News, and used the search term “Taylor Swift”, this photography issue ranked up at THE top (and there were hundreds of referenced press hits for it). Today though, it is as if the controversy has been virtually stricken from Google. All you see are articles about Taylor’s open letter to Apple. That and how she announced some couple’s engagement. Now think about it. What artist helps Google earn millions of dollars in revenue via YouTube advertising money? What if she threatened to yank down all of her past content from Youtube (which Google owns)? Things that make you go hmmmmm.

  • Truth Creative

    If you as a photographer accept the fee to do the job offered then I fail to see why you should make additional revenue from further exploiting her image beyond your requested work.

    Would you then pay the costume designer a royalty for her work appearing in your shots. What about the set designer, the lighting designer and make up artist who’s work also appeared in your shots. Is their work any less artistic.

    Where does it end. Intellectual property and image rights is never that black and white.

    I do agree you should be able to use the for self promotional purposes.

    • Designerific

      One person’s exploitation is another’s public relations and marketing. What Taylor tries to do here is use the photographers for her PR purposes, and then cries exploitation in regards to the potential future use of the same images. You can’t have it both ways. If you don’t want to be exploited, then stop exploiting yourself (and inviting others to do the same).

      • Truth Creative

        Is it unreasonable for an individual to want to have control over how and where their face appears. I also find it very disturbing that you think it is OK to exploit someone because you believe they are exploiting themselves. I guess you think it is OK for tabloid photographers to stick cameras up celebs skirts as they get out of cars and sell the shots to newspapers? Or use long lenses to invade peoples privacy when they are on private property because they are wearing a bikini? Celebs should have the same rights as everyone else when it comes to human decency.

        • Designerific

          You are distorting my words in an attempt to gain an emotional upper-hand. THAT’s disturbing. No one shoved a camera up anyone’s skirt here, and Ms. Swift carefully controls how she physically behaves out in public, and has the good sense to wear panties. Taylor is already controlling the scene within which she is being photographed. Not only that, but where the photographer is allowed to stand and WHEN he can stand there. But she’s invited a JOURNALISTIC photographer in to take these shots. For the purpose of journalism. President Obama is also known to carefully control his image. But he only attempts to control the elements he realistically CAN control. He doesn’t require the press corps to go to the press office afterwards (as a condition of entry) to hand-over their work. Of course, he is within his rights to deny entry to any photog that refuses to sign such a contract… I’m saying that it is unreasonable

          • Truth Creative

            If as a photographer do not like the terms of the job then refuse to do it. If all photographers refuse then maybe the terms will change. But I suspect those terms would not be unreasonable to everyone.

            I find it strange to take on a job knowing the terms then complain afterwards about something YOU agreed to in advance. Unless she had a gun to your head.

        • Steph Durant

          Poor form …. re-casting statements made into questions back, especially ones that are hardly comparable, and highly sensational.

          You’re not going to get any points from readers.

          • Truth Creative

            Please explain what was sensationalized?
            Also I don’t agree with people I believe are wrong to score points. I stand by what I said. Everybody famous or not should be allowed to control where images of themselves are used to make money. The only exception is if you break the law and your image is used for the purpose of genuine journalism in press. Not showbiz gossip. I take it you disagree?

          • Steph Durant

            You say “Please explain what was sensationalized?”


            RAOTFLOL !!

            Go to bed, Mr. Truth.

          • Truth Creative

            Think I will, good night, sleep tight!

  • station44025

    You are correct, but unfortunately, as absurd as your example of the architecture sounds, this is a real thing–and it presents a huge potential problem. The Chrysler Building has famously been involved in litigation vs. Pottery Barn over images of the building, claiming “trade dress.” Also, the “Hollywood” sign tries to collect royalties. Whether they’re legal claims or not, the mere fact that they will litigate prevents most commercial organizations from taking the chance, and yields a certain amount of revenue. Many photographers want to be copyright absolutists, and are opposed to any concept of fair use or public domain, thinking their interests are protected by strong copyright protections. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple as various rights-holders interests frequently clash. Concepts of fair use (like publishing a football score without paying a fee to the NFL, or taking a picture of the Manhattan Skyline) or public domain (like using a photo from the Civil War that has no chain of title in a documentary about the Civil War, or performing Happy Birthday without paying Warner) are anathema. Photographers of all people should be open to these ideas since they literally take pictures of existing things and claim them as their own works. The giant media companies, the RIAA, the MPAA, pharmaceutical companies etc. work tirelessly through the WTO and other trade negotiotiations (like the recent transpac) to “strengthen” copyright, extend it indefinitely, thereby eroding free speech, innovation, and access to scientific knowledge (and lifesaving medicines), as well as political and intellectual discourse globally. Designerific is right. Please take some time to consider more nuanced views of what copyright means in the larger picture before being ok with any and all contracts or laws that further consolidate “rights” in the hands of a powerful few.