NUJ applauds newspaper refusal to photograph Taylor Swift over 'rights-grabbing' contracts

The National Union of Journalists has applauded the Irish Times for refusing to photograph Taylor Swift concerts and sign “rights-grabbing” photography contracts.

The US singer has been accused of double standards after she persuaded Apple to back down on plans to stream pop music for free.

This prompted photographer Jason Sheldon to highlight the controversial contracts which Swift requires news photographers at her gigs to sign.

The contracts state the photographs can only be taken during the second and third songs of her set and that they “maybe used on a one-time only basis for news or information purposes”. The pictures cannot be re-used without Swift's written permission.

The contract also says: “Subject to the written consent of the publication as to any specific future use, FEI shall have the perpetual, worldwide right to use (and to authorise others to use) all of the photograhs for any non-commercial purpose.”

Sheldon wrote: "Now, forgive me if I’m wrong, but if you take points 2 and 3 in that contract (which is provided to photographers who need to agree to those terms before they are allowed to do their job in photographing you for editorial outlets), it appears to be a complete rights grab, and demands that you are granted free and unlimited use of our work, worldwide, in perpetuity."

The Irish Times decided not to photograph Swift on stage at her two sold-out Dublin shows.

Deputy picture editor Brenda Fitzsimons said: “The terms and conditions of the contract are exceedingly restrictive and just not feasible for a working newspaper and website.

NUJ freelance organiser John Toner has written to Swift’s management company asking for discussion of a contract that would respect the rights of all parties.

He said: “It is very encouraging that publications such as The Irish Times have stood up to Taylor Swift by rejecting the contract, even although it meant they would have to do without pictures of her shows.

“We would hope such actions focus the mind of Taylor Swift's management, and give her reason to reconsider her rights-grab. Photographers should not have to surrender the rights in their images in order to cover her shows.

“Acceptance of such a contract would mean that the photographer would be working virtually for free – something she has refused to do. Surely she can see that the charges of hypocrisy directed at her are well made? Her management should talk to us, as we can provide a contract that is fair to her and to photographers.”

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