Well, That Escalated …

A few days ago, Taylor Swift posted an open letter to Apple complaining about their new Music service.

I’m sure you are aware that Apple Music will be offering a free 3 month trial to anyone who signs up for the service. I’m not sure you know that Apple Music will not be paying writers, producers, or artists for those three months. I find it to be shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company.

Fair enough – creators deserve to be compensated for their work. Apple even backed down and said they will pay for the plays during the free trial period.

But it turns out the agreement photographers must sign to cover her concerts is a rights grab – meaning her company, Firefly Entertainment, gets to use the work others create without compensating them.

Ahem. Kettle, this is the pot … you should chat.

Swift’s management team quickly pointed out that was incorrect.

Great! There’s a new contract that isn’t a rights grab, right?

Umm, no.

It’s still there … and it gets worse.

It still grants them, “the perpetual, worldwide right to use the published Photographs for any non-commercial purpose (in all media and formats), including but not limited to publicity and promotion …”

So it isn’t everything anymore, just what you’ve published. There are also limitations on what and where you can publish – essentially eliminating any re-licensing beyond the original usage.

So, what’s worse?

If you fail to fully comply with this Authorization, authorized agents of FEI, the Artist or the Related Entities may confiscate and/or destroy the technology or devices that contain the master files of the Photographs and other images, including, but not limited to, cell phones and memory cards, and the Photographs and any other images.

Well, that’s just mean …

What do we take away from this? Unfortunately, we’ve probably already lost the battle on this. There are too many people willing to sign away their rights for the personal thrill of covering musicians. Additionally, most artists don’t need publications to get their message out – the ability to self-publish has wiped out the need for news organizations to truly cover these events.

But if they don’t, the audience goes elsewhere.

It’s a Catch-22, isn’t it?

Which doesn’t leave many options. It would be nice if the media companies that own publishers and radio stations would step up and say no to both the contracts and giving these “artists” airtime.

I have always counseled that it no longer makes sense to cover what is easily known, journalists should expend their efforts covering that which is not known.

Mark E. Johnson

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment