Concert Photography Rights Grab


So it seems Coldplay are getting press for there latest contract for photographers. The BJP have an article on rights grab contract here. The argument from Coldplay’s management goes something along the lines that well we need it so that the photographs only go to the publications we’ve agreed too. They’ll argue that they need to protect Coldplays image and ensure the photographs aren’t being misused for items such as fake merch.

It’s clear this is an on going problem within the concert photography and it’s something I did consider examing in my dissertation but for a number of reasons too dull to go into I decided to leave it. I shall however look at it on the blog and every time a news story like this comes up I’ll write about it. In my dream world what would happen is all photographers would walk away from these contracts refuse to shoot the bands and that the publications would support this and not give the band’s any coverage. I have no doubt this would stop the practice but there will be photographers who have no problem signing away there rights to shoot some bands and give photographs to bands for free. In the end it will hurt all photographers. That said no doubt those at the top of the game will still get paid for there work since quality will shine through.

Here’s a couple of things to consider, fake merch is the number one reason I’ve heard for these contracts being used. Now do you really thing if someone is going to make fake merch there going to go and hunt for a good photograph of the band and pay for the use of that photograph for T-shirts? I highly doubt it. Another argument I’ve also heard is that the management want to show there bands in the best light and having these contracts ensure this. Maybe a better idea is too look into who exactly is shooting your band? I went to a concert at the end of last year in a medium size venue (2000 cap) and there were 12 photographers in the pit. Now I don’t consider myself a professional nor an elitist and happy for any photographer to be in the photo pit with me,  but the majority there were kids some with only point and shoots and hardly any attached to a publication. If management were to ask photographers to show there portfolio or previous work they would be able to see the caliber of there work and see whether or not they’d put the band in a good light. Now i imagine this is going to be an unpopular view but maybe it’s time to tighten up on giving out photo pass’s like candy to anyone that wants one. Surely you should start in the small club venues and work your way up but it seems this is becoming less and less the case. It might make it harder for some photographers to get pass’s (myself no doubt included) but it would allow management to control their bands image and negate the need for the contracts. If you have any thoughts let me know.

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2 Comments to

“Concert Photography Rights Grab”

  1. On October 12th, 2009 at 1:13 am Karen McBride Says:

    Hi Tom,

    I really enjoyed reading this section on copyright and contract.. I think your argument for vetting the photographers portfolio is a strong one..


  2. On October 13th, 2009 at 2:50 pm TomKClarke Says:

    Hi Karen
    Thanks for the comment, glad you like the idea, would be nice if PR companys did so!


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