We knew it wouldn’t be too long until Taylor Swift spoke out to clear her name after a tour photographer accused her of a being a ‘hypocrite’, with a statement having now arrived saying that the photography agreement was ‘misrepresented’.
ICYMI, the 25-year-old scored a major victory earlier this week when her open letter to Apple Music resulted in the company backtracking on their policy and agreeing to pay artists’ royalties during their three month free trial.
However, official tour photographer Jason Sheldon then came forward to accuse the star of having “double standards”, with it being revealed that she demands “free and unlimited” use of their snaps – only paying a one-off fee.
After congratulating Taylor on successfully fighting Apple, he spoke about photographers not having the voice that she does.
He then shared a photo of a concert photo authorization contract that he had with Firefly entertainment for Taylor’s shows, and explaining: “If you take points 2 and 3 in that contract, 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. Photographers don’t ask for your music for free. Please don’t ask us to provide you with your marketing material for free.”
“Another distinct misrepresentation is the claim that the copyright of the photographs will be with anyone other than the photographer — this agreement does not transfer copyright away from the photographer. Every artist has the right to and should protect the use of their name and likeness.”
So there you do. Done and dusted, right?
Errrr, wrong, actually, because Jason has now taken BACK to his blog to respond to this new statement. OUR HEADS HURT.
In a length reply, the full version of which is on his blog, he replied: “Artists like Taylor Swift grant press photographers access to photograph their shows, in exchange for the expectation of helping to provide as much positive coverage in the media as possible – coverage that they are expecting their paid publicists to achieve. That is a mutually beneficial “something for something” exchange. She gets coverage, photographers get to earn a living.
“As a creative artist, I champion the rights of all other artists to receive an equitable “something for something” exchange, just as Taylor was claiming in her open letter to Apple. In our society, the most beneficial something to receive is hard currency, which is a concept nearly everyone can relate to; you trade your time, skill and energy in return for monetary gain – because earning money is a malleable benefit that can be shaped to the person who receives it.
“However, in the creative arts, there is an increasing tendency to seek “nothing for something” exchanges – where you are expected to apply your skill, time, efforts etc. for the benefit of a third party and, in return, receive an intangible – and sometimes non-existent benefit.”
He then denied ever saying copyright was surrended to Swifty, arguing: “Both the 2011 and 2015 contracts demand an assignment of rights to Swift and Co. that are the near equivalent to handing over ones full copyrights, and the photographer is left with zero rights to use their work, not even as part of their own portfolio.
“Both of the agent’s statements divert attention away from the core issue; Taylor Swift is seeking to unfairly benefit from the work of photographers, while claiming to be championing the rights of creatives against Apple. This is clear double-standard that I called out as hypocrisy.
“It may have been the case that Taylor Swift was blissfully unaware of the contracts. I doubt that is now the case, and I would like to see her personal statement (rather than that of her UK agent) on whether she is willing to follow in Apple’s footsteps and amend the inequities of her current agreement.
“Lastly, if Swift does feel the need to protect her name and likeness from potential abuse, all her photo access contract need stipulate is “Editorial Use Only”.”
TayTay has yet to personally reply to any of his blog posts, and we are definitely hoping for another passionate open letter.
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