Ariana Grande Demands All Photographers At Her Concerts Transfer Copyright To Her, NPPA Revolts
from the work-for-higher dept
We’ve seen plenty of ridiculous demands from performing artists over the years as to what photographers can and cannot do while attending their performances. This sort of thing typically amounts to a desire for some kind of control over which images get released and which don’t. That kind of attempt at control is silly, of course, and runs counter to the journalistic principles that many of these photographers employ.
But if you want to see the really batshit crazy extreme of all this, we need apparently only look to the rules that Ariana Grande’s tour puts on photographers.
The “Standard Terms and Conditions for Photographers/Live Appearances” for the Sweetener World Tour require that “all rights (including all copyrights) in and to the Photographs shall be owned by GrandAriTour, Inc. (‘Company’) as a “work-made-for-hire.’” The agreement provides for “the limited right to capture solely still photographs of Artist solely during the first three (3) songs performed by Artist at the Performance” and that “any such photography shall only occur from a designated spot at the front of house (not in the ‘pit’).” In addition, the photographers covering the concert and the news organizations for which they work, would only be allowed to use their own photographs if the specific images were “expressly approved in writing by Artist,” and even then, only “in a single instance, solely as part of a news item relating to the Performance in the news publication of which Photographer is an employee/agent,” which violates established journalistic ethics.
To say that all of this is onerous for photographers would be a laughable understatement. This isn’t how photographers work, particularly those who are working in any kind of journalistic enterprise. The very nature of journalism requires the circumvention of this type of editorial control and nothing in copyright law remotely allows an artist making a public performance to put these kinds of restrictions on photographers.
Now, I already know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that this agreement is only for photographers that are working for the tour, in which case they would be agreeing to these restrictions knowingly, so what’s the big deal? Well, the National Press Photographers Association, which has issued an open letter to the Grande tour, and which is advising its members not to go anywhere near this agreement, explains that Grande’s tour is actually trying to turn the clicking of a shutterbox into a signature to the agreement.
NPPA Deputy General Counsel Alicia Calzada also noted that in addition to the ethical and practical problems with the agreement, the bold underlined writing at the end of the agreement stating that “Any Photography of Artist by Photographer Shall be Deemed Acceptance by Photographer of the Terms Hereof, and Company and Artist Shall Proceed in Reliance on Such Acceptance,” is inappropriate and not legally binding. “You can’t transfer copyright that way,” she said while also taking issue with the fact that “photographers are not legal agents of a news organization and generally do not have the authority to sign away the copyrights of their employers.”
That probably renders the entire agreement unenforceable and, therefore, pretty fucking useless. Which only raises more questions, such as: what the hell is the point of creating such an burdensome agreement to begin with? And: what crack legal staff actually signed off on this thing?
It’s probably worth pointing out that having all of this come from an artist like Grande, who herself enjoys all kinds of copyright protections and whose business is enabled entirely by the First Amendment, is additionally problematic. Apparently, copyright is just fine for Grande, as is artistic expression, but for everyone else it’s fairly non-existent.