Fame Monster Gobbling Up Photographers’ Copyrights

Lady Gaga is demanding that some photographers transfer all their copyrights to images they make of her as a condition for photographing her concerts, according to TBD, a local news site serving the Washington, DC area.

The site says Jay Westcott, a TBD photographer covering a Lady Gaga concert last week, was presented with a “Photo Release Form” requiring him to transfer copyrights to his concert shots to the star. Westcott called TBD’s offices for a consultation, and TBD editors told him not to sign the agreement and not to shoot the concert.

In its report about the incident, TBD surveyed other photographers, editors, and trade groups (including ASMP) about such copyright transfer demands. The upshot of the story is that for some time now, a few rock megastars–but certainly not all–have demanded copyright transfers from concert photographers because, well, they can.

As TBD notes, the terms on Lady Gaga’s transfer form “are the sort of strict stuff you expect from stars who know darn well that media organizations need them way more than they need media organizations.”

The Foo Fighters and the Beastie Boys are also mentioned in the story as rights grabbers. If you know of others, let us know, and we’ll try to post a “Rockin’ Rogues” gallery of in the next couple of weeks.

35 Responses to “Fame Monster Gobbling Up Photographers’ Copyrights”

  1. Austin Holt Says:

    Passing the word along. Interesting to say the least.

  2. James Dehnert Says:

    I for one, would live a completely satisfied life if I never saw another Lady GaGa picture again. It’s not like there is a shortage of celebs to photograph. Personally, I think she needs the media more then the media needs her. Can you imagine the reaction if she got out of a limo at some award show and all the photographers put their cameras down! PRICELESS!

  3. Sarah Says:

    Lady Gaga and her team need to look up the term WORK-FOR-HIRE. She is a media-made celebrity biting the hand that feeds her. I suggest all photographers only take and submit horrible photos of her. Better yet, every camera TURN AWAY when she’s present. What kind of career will she have without the media limelight?

    If musicians don’t want to pay the licensing fees to photographers, then they should consider handing over the rights to their music for free use in movies, video games, tv ads, iTunes and Amazon sales, etc. Let us know how THAT feels, Beastie Boys…

    To all concert photographers: always request a copy of the contract you’ve read and signed. It’s a legal document you need for future reference.

  4. fabioabu Says:

    And you know what, they can easly afford the price of the shoots. Whats happening to the artists? Before they was our expectations megafone and now they’re worse then the commerce and industry…

  5. Armando Says:

    What can you expect from a person who wears a meat dress?, pure vanity, she is a product from the media, not an artist. She does not want to express anything, is just controversy all the way. She does not deserves attention. Too much words for being her subject…

  6. Craig Stilson Says:

    I agree with James and Sarah. It would suit me fine if I never have to see another picture of Lady GaGa again. The media photographers should just refuse to take her pictures, period.

  7. Bruce Says:

    These “stars” seem to have forgotten that they once needed publicity. I shot Chicago’s Country Music Fest last year. Gretchen Wilson was normal(first three songs), but Clint Black had us all move back up the aisle to the sound board while the i-phones in the crowd were flashing away. Same three song rule, but nobody wants a pano of a dark stage.

  8. Marie Says:

    This reminds of an episode from The Simpson’s halloween special, “Attack of the 50-foot Eyesores”. Ads are terrorizing the city, and part of the solution was quite simple – stop looking at the monsters, they’ll lose their power and become lifeless.

    Lady Gaga is only a gimmick. I agree with Armando, she is a product of the media and not an artist AT ALL! Let’s all ignore her completely.

  9. Why photography rights grabs are offensive « Rich Copley Photography, etc. Says:

    [...] [...]

  10. John Goldsmith Says:

    Fans should reciprocate:

    From this moment on, anyone who hears Lady Gaga’s music on *their* radio or *their* CD or *their* music download, owns the copyright to the music created by Lady Gaga.

    Fair is fair, right? Too bad I don’t like her music… I could be rich…

  11. Jon H Says:

    Article that mentions a My Chemical Romance rights grab : http://stlmusicpress.com/news/?p=3278

  12. Ronald Says:

    Totally agree with john goldschmidt. Lady Gaga creates the image, the photographer just has to push a button. It is all presented on a silver plate.

  13. Andie Says:

    Imagine a photographer going into a museum. Taking a picture of a painting by let’s say Miro. What would be fair? Imagine to take a very interesting screenshot of this photo of Miro from the photographer’s website. What would be fair? I think it is about who creates the image, not the one who produces it.

  14. Argento Says:

    Just another example how the “photographers” set themselves up for being ripped off. Are you silly dooshes happy yet about giving everything away for stock photography?

  15. AC Says:

    Yes, stock has killed us, but we let it happen. Now we have to deal with it and not let it be the end of our carers.

  16. Weekly Photo Links | PhotoWeeklyOnline INC. Says:

    [...] Lady Gaga Wants the Rights to Photographs Taken at her Concert [...]

  17. RP Says:

    Would be nice if you linked the ORIGINAL article, no?
    http://www.tbd.com/articles/2011/03/dear-photographers-lady-gaga-wants-the-copyright-on-your-work-55567.html

  18. Bogdan Radu Says:

    Lady who?
    :)

  19. Cody Says:

    Photographers should stop shooting these stars. All stars. What how fast these celebrities fizzle into obscurity. Besides, who wants to see another photo of another over-paid bimbo prancing around on stage? Concert photography is mundane at best. Good riddance.

  20. Fame Monster Gobbling Up Photographers’ Copyrights « Jase's Blog Says:

    [...] Fame Monster Gobbling Up Photographers’ Copyrights. LikeBe the first to like this post. [...]

  21. Jeremy Nicholl Says:

    Dear PDN, the rock rogues’ gallery you’re looking for is here:
    http://www.jeremynicholl.com/blog/2011/03/07/dear-photographers-lady-gaga-wants-the-copyright-on-your-work-oh-and-by-the-way-so-do-we/

  22. Argento Says:

    Imagine if all live performances were made stock, and part of the public domain the way photography is. But no, see how carefully these artists protect their rights? It is too late for most photographers to have careers anymore, unless they do weddings and portraits. They killed themselves by giving everything away, and now meet the consequences. Photographers are listed just after Plumbers in the phone book, and the latter get paid and have careers.

  23. Mark Forman Says:

    Lady Gag Ya

    Flies are attracted to rotten meat dresses.

    A self interested greed ridden person not worth the interest of anyone other than the IRS

  24. Brouhaha Over Lady Gaga “Rights Grab” Says:

    [...] characterized the story as Lady Gaga gobbling up photographers’ copyrights, while others are arguing that these types of contracts are pretty common for big-name [...]

  25. Lady Gaga + Other Music Artists “Rights Grab” | Winnie Jeng Photography Says:

    [...] PDN Pulse and a couple of other blogs/outlets have written on this topic recently, and here’s the gist of it: Lady Gaga is demanding that some photographers transfer all their copyrights to images they make of her as a condition for photographing her concerts, according to TBD, a local news site serving the Washington, DC area. [...]

  26. cosmic|techie » Brouhaha Over Lady Gaga “Rights Grab” Says:

    [...] characterized the story as Lady Gaga gobbling up photographers’ copyrights, while others are arguing that these types of contracts are pretty common for big-name [...]

  27. Patent Litigation Says:

    Here is a similar story

    Many pop stars impose annoying restrictions on photojournalists. Often the lenspeople can shoot only three songs, they can’t use flashes, and they have to stand way back by the soundboard instead of in front of the stage.

    And then there are Lady Gaga’s demands.

    At her Verizon Center concert last week, photographers were given a “Photo Release Form” to sign. Many of the stipulations of the form TBD received (read it here!) are the sort of strict stuff you expect from stars who know darn well that media organizations need them way more than they need media organizations: You can’t sell the photos, you can’t use them for longer than four months, you can’t use the images in ads.

  28. Trishann Couvillion Says:

    Since we don’t ask musicians to hand over their copyright when we purchase their albums, other artists should realize that our copyright is our own. Never accept work for hire. Not worth it!! I photograph a lot of Event Photography and musicians too and I’ve never even been asked to give up copyright and I never would!

  29. Andrea M Brandt Says:

    I bet she wouldn’t sell the copyrights to her songs she writes. The ignorance astounds me.

  30. Kablutwa Senome Says:

    Who is agreeing to sign and how do they make money by signing?

  31. tugbote Says:

    On one hand, I can understand the ‘reasoning’ behind this idea; to ensure that others (photographers, websites, media) are not using these images to make money by proxy from the publication of celebrity photographs.

    On the other hand, for some reason, I don’t think the celebrities really ‘need’ any more money than they’re already acquiring.

    Of course, that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.

  32. Susan May Tell Says:

    I’m beginning to think that the paparazzi are among the few photographers (not including fine art, here) willing to choose who/what they want to photograph without photo-ops controlled by the “talent.” “Talent” (jargon-speak) = politicians, entertainers, corporations (such as BP), governments, farmers. etc.

  33. Jason Samuelson Says:

    Obama is far worse, and so are the sycophant photographers who only picture(d) him in a positive way. And the media are complicit as well. Obama is a heavy smoker, by most accounts a chain smoker. Isn’t it remarkable that the mass media didn’t run photos of him smoking, during the campaign? And isn’t it remarkable that it still doesn’t run such photos?

    Lady Idiot is of no consequence except to idiots. By contrast, photographers and mass media who conspire to create an image for a sleazy politition change history, and in the matter of Obama, change it for the worse.

  34. Tom Craig Says:

    This issue has been raised time and time again. And the foundation of the problem is never discussed. That is, in my opinion, the present U.S. Copyright law. Obviously it does not adequately protect the Image maker. The Copy right law here in France is, by far the one that protects the image maker the best. It makes the Image maker the undeniable Moral Rights owner and this right cannot not be removed until after 75 years after his/her death. No Contract signed, no invoice with unfair Terms and conditions, etc. is legal. No matter what. So, my question is, why is the contrary, in this case the Lady Gaga Contract, even an issue? She would know better than try that here, she wouldn’t be able to, it’s not legal. Now, say that to your Congress members, that your Copyright Law stinks. And that they need to do something about it.

  35. Walter Briggs Says:

    Oh, for the days prior to the “three songs” restriction. Or did I just run into REALLY cool road managers? This is NO “lady” and..well..the freak can just go without being photographed!