Photographers warned Ariana Grande Pride concert contract breaches 'press freedom'

Photographers have been warned not to sign “copyright grab” contracts for pop singer Ariana Grande’s Manchester Pride concert by the National Union of Journalists.

The NUJ has claimed the “highly restrictive” contracts will “severely compromise” photographers’ livelihoods, adding that they breach “core principles of journalism and press freedom”.

Grande is currently on her Sweetener world tour and will play Manchester on Sunday for the first time since the One Love benefit concert in 2017 following a bomb attack at her arena gig which killed 22 people.

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According to the NUJ, terms given to photographers who want to cover the concert include handing over ownership and copyright to the company GrandAriTour.

In her letter to Grande’s representatives, NUJ Photographers’ Council chairman Natasha Hirst said this constitutes a “deeply unfair copyright grab from photographers, the majority of whom will be self-employed individuals.

“This reinforces a worrying effort to shift industry standards by compromising creator’s rights and breaching core principles of journalism and press freedom.”

The contract also reportedly forces photographers to “promptly provide” the company with a complete set of contact sheets and digital files of all pictures taken at the event for personal, commercial or archival use by Grande without any obligation to the photographer.

Hirst said this was “onerous and overreaching”.

She also raised concerns over a clause giving the photographer “limited right” to use certain photos “expressly approved” in writing by Grande “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”.

Hirst said this was an “unacceptable pre-condition for most, if not all journalists and news organisations”.

“As representatives of independent and staff photographers and journalists we appeal to Ms Grande and her representatives to revise the agreement to better respect the work and rights of visual creators,” Hirst’s letter went on.

“As an artist who clearly values the rights of musicians, we would hope that there is goodwill from Ms Grande to engage with us to find a more appropriate solution to the issues raised.”

The International Federation of Journalists shared support for the letter on Twitter, writing: “Photographers are authors just like you and they should be able to make a living. Please withdraw these shameful contracts.”

In March, the National Press Photographers Association in the US shared a similar letter on behalf of 15 news organisations and associations, including the New York Times, Associated Press, Los Angeles Times and Gannett, one of the country’s largest regional publishers.

The letter said the transfer of photo ownership and copyright to Grande “runs counter to legal and industry standards and is anathema to core journalistic principles of the news organisations represented here”.

Representatives for Grande have not commented on the issue.

Picture: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni 



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4 thoughts on “Photographers warned Ariana Grande Pride concert contract breaches 'press freedom'”

  1. Local freelance photographers were not given any opportunity to shoot Ariana Grande. Few days before the show we received the following.
    Hi there

    We have a few updates for you.

    I can confirm that no media will be able to photograph or video Ariana Grande’s performance either from the pit or the main arena at Manchester Pride Live. We have submitted all interview requests that we have received and do not know for certain if they will be possible but it is unlikely that we will be able accommodate everyone.  We will let you know as soon as we can though.  You will of course be able to watch the show and interview the crowds and the festival organisers.

    Down at the Social will provide official approved content from Ariana’s team – please let Daisy know who to send it to. Daisy@downatthesocial.co.uk.

    This information is strictly embargoed until Saturday 24 August.

    We do have some good news from you. We will be welcoming some super special guests from BBC3’s newest hit show RuPaul’s Drag Race UK at our Pre-parade brunch at the Refuge at The Principal Hotel at 10am on Saturday.

    If you would like to meet them please RSVP to manchesterpride@downatthesocial.co.uk.





    Rebecca Hanberry
    Account Handler
    07854 135 834

    Down At The Social

    Manchester Office
    WeWork, No 1 Spinningfields
    Quay Street, Manchester, M3 3JE

  2. We had this happen last July with an event. We have a strict rule. Say thank you but no, turn your back and walk away. Most of the time they will call you back, text someone and say you don’t have to sign. This is a no no for media people.

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