Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lady Gaga's copyright demands on photographers

The photographers' pit. Image courtesy of Daniel Boud.

Copyright is an issue that's close to the hearts of many creatives whose livelihood depends on the things they create. That's why I was quite frustrated to read this news story on the Rolling Stone website about how Lady Gaga demands that photographers surrender the copyright of photos taken at her concerts. This means that all the moral and copyright rights of the photographer are immediately transferred to Lady Gaga the moment the photographer takes the photo. But it's not only performers like Lady Gaga enforcing these crazy rules - other bands such as the Foo Fighters and The Beastie Boys ask photographers to sign over their copyright. These contracts are extremely unfair to photographers who have spent hours waiting before the show, get paid very little and then have no ongoing revenue stream from the photos they take. The article makes the comparison that photo contracts would be like the venue saying they own the rights to that show's music because it is played in their house.

What do you think? Is it fair for musicians and performers who make their money from their creative output to make such restrictive demands on photographers?


  1. Hmm..well this is a tough one.

    Photographers have always been a part of the music scene, so it does seem outlandish for a musician to request copyright of any photos taken of them during the concert.

    But I do also understand that if you take a photo of someone, you should have some kind of model release right? See links below:

    How do the concert photographers bypass this? Do concert photographers have to apply for a special license? or are they given special consideration since they're essentially promoting the artist that they're photographing?

    I don't know Anne. When it comes to the paparazzi, I am appalled at the "photographers" who stalk them and snap pictures without permission. If that were to happen to me, I would feel violated!

    This is a hard one to argue for OR against.

  2. Yeah, that's a good point about the model release forms. When it comes to paparazzi (how apt to use that word when talking about Lady Gaga!) I definitely don't have much sympathy towards them. Vultures.

    But when it comes to concert photographers, I feel they are getting a raw deal with these contracts. I was reading Daniel Boud's blog and he sums up the photographer's frustration quite well:

    "I think artist’s management seem to think that photographers are getting rich off their image – it’s so far from the truth. Most photographers are actually there due to a passion for their craft and a love of music. The monetary compensation is meagre.
    What we do want is the right to publish our photos on our own websites. We want the right to say yes to Rolling Stone or SPIN magazine when they get in contact about publishing our photos. We want to be able to use our photos for editorial use, which is generally positive publicity for the artist."

    Here's the link if you want to read the rest:


  3. It's their concert, don't like the rules find another venue to shoot.


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