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Taylor Swift rep say photographer agreement “misrepresented”, as second contract emerges

By | Published on Wednesday 24 June 2015

Taylor Swift

A rep for Taylor Swift has said that a photographers’ agreement published in the wake of her battle with Apple over royalty payments has been “misrepresented”.

As previously reported, after Swift berated Apple for its initial plan not to pay royalties on Apple Music’s three month free trial, freelance photographer Jason Sheldon wrote his own letter criticising her demands on people hired to document her live shows in photo form. Posting a contract on his website, he noted that, under the agreement, pictures taken at the singer’s concerts could only be licensed once to the publication that originally commissioned them, after which the right to use the photographs is handed over to Swift.

“You say in your letter to Apple that ‘three months is a long time to go unpaid'”, wrote Sheldon. “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”.

But a UK-based rep for Swift told Business Insider: “[The contract] clearly states that any photographer shooting the ‘1989’ world tour has the opportunity for further use of said photographs with management’s approval. Another distinct misrepresentation is the claim that the copyright of the photographs will be with anyone other than the photographer – this agreement does not transfer copyright away from the photographer. Every artist has the right to and should protect the use of their name and likeness”.

Sheldon responded on Twitter: “For the record, I never claimed they take our copyright. Just the right to use and give our images away worldwide in perpetuity, just as bad. If you have a contentious contract that you present to people, yet say that it’s amendable for anyone that objects to certain parts of it then you’re clearly aware that it’s not a fair contract and if it IS amendable, then there is no point having it in the first place”.

Of course, there’s the other point that this was not an agreement for photographing the current ‘1989’ tour, but actually one from 2011. So it’s a few years out of date. Luckily, another photographer, Joel Goodman, was on hand with a copy of the more recent version. That one, he noted, gives Swift’s team the right to destroy a photographer’s equipment if they break the agreement.

“[This newer contract] has been passed to me by two other photographers whom I know, independently of one another, on condition that they remain anonymous”, Goodman told PetaPixel. “Some photographers fear losing income if they get blacklisted for speaking out against these kind of contracts”.

He added: “This contract is particularly egregious in that it not only contains an all out rights grab on the photographers’ work, whilst limiting their editorial control and ability to earn from that work – and does so without compensation – but because it does so under threat of criminal damage or destruction of property”.