Taylor Swift makes concessions on photography contract

July 21, 2015
Category: Newsletters
Taylor Swift (AP Image)

Taylor Swift (AP Image)

After negotiations with representatives from news organizations and professional associations, pop star Taylor Swift has agreed to revise a photography contract for her “1989 World Tour” that several news organizations and photojournalists condemned for being too restrictive.

The revised contract comes in response to bargaining between representatives for Swift and 14 news and professional organizations, according to a statement released by Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association.

“After taking the time to hear our concerns regarding her world tour photography guidelines agreement, the news and professional associations and Taylor’s team are very pleased to have been able to work together for a revised agreement that is fair to everyone involved,” Osterreicher said.

According to a copy of the contract obtained by Poynter, Swift has walked back some elements of the agreement that photographers found most objectionable. Swift’s representatives are no longer empowered to forcibly remove images from the cameras of photojournalists. In addition, a stricture preventing photographers from using images taken at Swift’s concerts more than once is gone entirely. And Swift’s representatives have agreed to credit photojournalists when the artist uses their photos.

The original contract contained several provisions that First Amendment lawyers interviewed by Poynter for an earlier story said were onerous and overreaching in their restrictions of the press. One journalist in the U.K. called the original contract a “complete rights grab.”

For journalists and artists alike, the agreement shows that there’s room for negotiation on contracts for entertainment photography, said Kevin Goldberg, a First Amendment attorney with Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, P.L.C.

There’s some interesting symmetry in the timing of the accord between Swift and photojournalists. In June, the artist penned a high-profile open letter to Apple requesting that the company revise the terms and conditions for Apple Music, its new streaming service, to make it fair for musicians. Less than a month after Apple complied with her request, Swift has herself been moved by supplications from photographers.

Here’s the contract:

Correction: A previous version of this story said that the revised contract has loosened a provision stipulating that photojournalists can only use images taken at her concert once. In fact, that provision has been eliminated.