The haters continue to hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. Earlier this week, Taylor Swift took on Apple and actually won: Apple wasn’t going to to pay royalties to artists during the three-month Apple Music trial period, but T. Swift took umbrage to this and got Apple to reverse the decision, scoring one for independent artists like herself.
Of course, somebody out there was going to find hypocrisy in Taylor fighting the good fight, namely photographer Jason Sheldon. On Monday, Sheldon wrote a blog post responding to Swift’s tirade about Apple Music, calling her out for doing the exact same thing to photographers that Apple was planning on doing to musicians. Sheldon posted an image of the contract that he signed when he shot Swift’s 2011 tour, similar to the one that freelance photographers are required to sign to shoot the 1989 tour:
Sheldon points out that points two and three in the contract basically only allow the photographer to be paid once—and if the publication that initially offers to buy the photo doesn’t use it, they don’t get paid at all—while Swift and her team can use those same photos forever. In his blog post, Sheldon ties that back into Swift’s attack on Apple, saying, “[Y]ou 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 from Apple?”
Swift’s spokesperson swiftly shot back with a statement to the BBC, stating that Sheldon’s got it all wrong:
The standard photography agreement has been misrepresented in that it clearly states that any photographer shooting The 1989 World Tour has the opportunity for further use of said photographs with management’s approval.
Another distinct misrepresentation is the claim that the copyright of the photographs will be with anyone other than the photographer - this agreement does not transfer copyright away from the photographer.“Every artist has the right to, and should, protect the use of their name and likeness.
So is this just a case of Swift protecting her public image? It seems like all a photographer would have to do would be to ask T.Swift nicely and she’d let you resell some of the pictures. Sheldon disagrees with that interpretation, saying on Twitter:
The plot further thickened when photographer Josh Johnson came forward, saying that Swift posted on of his professional photos to her Instagram and did not give him proper credit.
Swift hasn’t responded to this newest round of accusations, but presumably she’ll have something to say. Is Taylor Swift being mean? Is this a false equivalency? Will T. Swift actually sue us if we use the term “this sick beat?” While the photographer agreement may appear hypocritical on Swift’s part, this type of image protection is common between celebrities and freelance photographers; celebrities are very protective of their image, and without these contracts, should the publication that initially licensed the photo not use it,a photographer could then turn around and sell their images of Swift to a publication that she may not want to be associated with, such as Hustler. To be fair, though, most people buy Hustler for the articles.