Keeps on getting worse!!

In the last couple of weeks the rights grab people have been increasing. From the Press gazette in London:

Photographers covering musician Jay-Z’s recent appearance at the Wireless Festival in London were apparently asked to sign away their copyright to the multi-millionaire rap artist. Press Gazette has been given a “photographer’s release and grant of rights form” which a photographer, who asked not to be named, was handed at the recent festival.

In the form photographers are asked to sign away their copyright in exchange for having the right to photograph the rapper, whose real name is Shawn Carter.

The form states: “You agree that any and all photographs and images captured or obtained on any media, known or future, are not for commercial sale, or distribution in any form, except for use in the below mentioned publication. “You further agree that this permission is for a one-time use only, unless agreed in writing and attached to this document.All copyrights and other intellectual property rights shall be entirely Artist’s property; free of any claims whatsoever by you or any person, firm or corporation.”

The article goes on to say that most journalists think that the contract is legally unenforceable. I agree with them on this point, but that is not the point. More than likely Jay-Z is not going to sue some poor starving photographer because he sold a picture of him to the wrong magazine. First off, he would look like an idiot and a bully. Secondly, he would have to prove damages (basically having to say that a picture of him in a publication would hurt his career, and unless the picture showed him doing something really stupid, would probably be impossible for him to prove.)

The article goes on to say:

National Union of Journalists freelance officer John Toner, who represents photographers for the union, advises members never to sign such forms.

He said: “Our advice would be that it’s not worth anyone’s time to work on the basis of this contract. We have devised our own contract which photographers are starting to use with some success.”

“Management are ripping off photographers and trying to get them to agree to terms that they would never expect for their own artists.

“If a photographer is confronted by one of these contracts we would urge them to contact their publisher as a first port of call, because they don’t want photographers signing these contracts either.”

This brings forth another point. If one is working for a publication, the photographer has no right to sign their name to a contract representing the publication without the publications attorneys looking it over and signing off on it. Also, most large publications (newspapers and magazines) expressly say to their photographers that they cannot sign any kind of contract on the publications behalf.

Final thought: Someone wrote a comment to this writers post. He had a very funny idea- Photographers should present musicians with a contract stating that if the photographer downloads music or buys a CD produced by the artist, the photographer then has rights over that music. It’s the same thing…

Last final thought: I recently heard that Iron Maiden, a band that used to love having people photograph them, now has a similar contract.

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