Sunday 4 December 2016

Taylor Swift branded "a hypocrite" over Apple row by photographer exposing star's photo policy

Published 22/06/2015 | 17:52

Tayor Swift had condemned Apple Music's 'shocking and disappointing' decision not to pay for songs streamed during a three-month trial period
Tayor Swift had condemned Apple Music's 'shocking and disappointing' decision not to pay for songs streamed during a three-month trial period

Taylor Swift's challenge to Apple to pay acts on its streaming service has seen her accused of hypocrisy after details emerged of her attempts to control photographers covering her concerts.

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The Shake It Off singer (25) said she would hold back her latest album 1989 from Apple Music in protest at the technology giant's "shocking and disappointing" decision not to pay for songs streamed during a three-month trial period.

Writing online, she said it was " unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing", prompting an Apple executive to tweet this morning that the musicians would be paid.

Read More: Music industry figures cautiously welcome Apple Music turnaround

But it also prompted a less complimentary reply from photographer Jason Sheldon, who posted what he said was a copy of her photo policy which gives her "free and unlimited use of our work, worldwide, in perpetuity".

Tayor Swift claims
Tayor Swift claims "free and unlimited use of any photo" taken of her by photographers hired to cover her events and concerts

He said: "How are you any different to Apple? If you don't like being exploited, that's great ... make a huge statement about it, and you'll have my support. But how about making sure you're not guilty of the very same tactic before you have a pop at someone else?

"Photographers need to earn a living as well."

Mr Sheldon points to a "contract authorisation form" photographers are expected to sign in order to take pictures of the artist on behalf of a publication.

Read More: 'Elated' Taylor forces Swift climbdown from Apple Music

His problem is that any photograph he takes of Ms Swift can only be licensed once to a single publication, however her label, Firefly Entertainment, retains the rights to the photograph.

Mr Sheldon explains: "As a freelance photographer, I am asked to photograph concerts by publications. I get paid if and when the photos are used, not for turning up to a show and shooting it."

"When I’m not allowed to do anything else with the photos, that means I’ve incurred expenses to work, which I can’t recover. 

"Therefore preventing me from licensing my photos to more than one publication, or even (as later versions of this contract stipulate) preventing me from using the images for my own self promotion in a portfolio, while they can use them without licensing the usage, is highly unfair and unjustified."

Mr Sheldon said that by doing so, Ms Swift was exploiting photographers the same way she accused Apple of planning to exploit artists.

"You say in your letter that three months is a long time to go unpaid.  But you seem happy to restrict us to being paid once, and never being able to earn from our work ever again, while granting you the rights to exploit our work for your benefit for all eternity. How are you any different to Apple?"

Read More: Swift calls Apple 'shocking' as she pulls album from new music service

Ms Swift's stand against Apple came after she withdrew her entire catalogue from popular streaming service Spotify in November.

A copy of the contract that photographers have to sign, says Jason Sheldon
A copy of the contract that photographers have to sign, says Jason Sheldon

She said she was making a stand not for herself but for new artists and bands, young songwriters and producers who would not be paid for a quarter of a year of plays.

Apple's U-turn w as given a cautious welcome by music industry figures.

Alison Wenham, from the Worldwide Independent Network which represents the independent music industry, said: "The decision from Apple to pay royalties to rights owners during the proposed three-month trial period is clearly a positive and encouraging step and we welcome the beginning of a fair and equitable relationship between Apple Music and the global independent music sector."

Musicians' Union assistant general secretary Horace Trubridge said it was "unclear" exactly what Apple was proposing.

He said: "When they say they will pay, are they paying the publishers and records labels so they can pay the artists, or are they paying the artists direct?

"Also, it's one thing if you are an act like Taylor Swift and have that market share and commercial power, but if you're an act with a major label from the 1970s or 1980s, which is where a lot of the streamed music is from, you've probably got a crap contract that does not pay out much for streaming."

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