Is Taylor Swift Really Trying To Rob Photographers?

In recent news, Taylor Swift criticized Apple for initially not paying artists during the trial period for Apple Music, their latest music streaming service. The battle went on for one quick day as Apple shortly retreated, granting victory to Swift’s team and stamping the rare power she continues to have on music business.

Meanwhile, at the stem of this rebuttal, freelance photographer Jason Sheldon published an open letter on his blog where he argued Swift’s recent image-licensing policy, suggesting the hypocrisy to her complaints towards Apple. In her policy, Editorial photographers assigned to shoot her shows must sign away rights to their photos, preventing them from being paid while giving Swift unlimited use of the pictures for publicity and promotion. It gets worse…

One section of the policy that Sheldon doesn’t mention is the right to her management company to destroy a photographer’s equipment if they break the terms of the contact, one they are obligated to sign before shooing her show. It reads the following:

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.

Just today, a UK representative for Taylor Swift quickly countered and told Business Insider via email that the standard photography agreement to which Sheldon referred was “misrepresented.” To me, this all sounds like “Bad Blood” more than anything.

At this point, we know that Apple changed their course of action but will Taylor Swift? As a photographer, I feel this is indeed quite hypocritical. Especially because it’s photos from concert photographers that tend to promote ticket sales, creating a huge monetary benefit for promoters, venues and the Swift team alike. Needless to say, I’ll refrain from shooting any Taylor Swift shows any time in the near future. What do you think?

Angela E. Mejia

Angela is a photographer/photojournalist/visionary raised in the mean streets of Chicago. Since 2008, she's covered everything from concerts for underground and mainstream artists, to food editorial, to just about every type of photography you can think of. Other interests include traveling, anything artsy, Chicago sports, and eating tacos.

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