NPPA Helps Revise Taylor Swift Credential Agreement

ATHENS, GA (July 21, 2015) – Recently there were many news stories about pop icon Taylor Swift's open letter to Apple saying that she was not going to agree to their terms for distributing her music on iTunes. And then very publicly Apple capitulated.

Not long afterwards a number of photographers and newspaper editors pointed out that Swift's own concert photo guidelines (the credential agreement for covering her concerts) were onerous and overreaching towards photographers, and some called her a hypocrite for wanting to grab incredible photo rights to photographers' images and for not respecting the rights of photographers. One of Swift's early contract agreement actually allowed Swift's security people to take away cameras and delete images. 

Several newspapers refused to cover Swift's "1989 [sic] World Tour" concerts, and online discussions of the agreement led some editors to take a closer look at the credential agreements for other touring performing artists. The Quebec newspaper Le Soleil boycotted a Foo Fighters' concert after deciding that their concert photo contract was too restrictive, and instead they sent a cartoon sketch artist to cover the event instead of a photographer.

Earlier this month when The New York Times sent photographer Ben Sklar to cover Swift's "1989 World Tour" concert in Bossier City, Louisiana, they were not subjected to the photo agreement. And when The Washington Post covered Swift's concert just last week, they told the Poynter Institute that the photo agreement was amended with permission from Swift's people. 

Mickey H. Osterreicher, the National Press Photographers Associations general legal counsel, is a member of a group of media organizations that frequently address concerns regarding credentials for sports events, concerts, musical performances, etc. The group was in the process of discussing what course of action they might take regarding Swift's photo credential agreement when members of the pop singers public relations team made it known that they were open to discussions.

Osterreicher led the way for the group by drafting and circulating a credential agreement that addressed photographers' and publishers' concerns while at the same time being suitable to the concerns of Swift's representatives. The draft was supported by 14 members of the media groups who signed on, including the Associated Press, the Associated Press Managing Editors, the Society for Professional Journalists, and American Society of Media Professionals, the Radio Television Digital News Association and others. [See entire list at the bottom] Today the group and Swift's representatives released the new world tour photography guidelines agreement.

"Ms. Swift should be commended for showing by example her concern not only for the rights of musicians but for the rights of the photographers and organizations that cover her concerts," Osterreicher said tonight.

"After taking the time to hear our concerns regarding her world tour photography guidelines agreement, the news and professional associations and Taylor’s team are very pleased to have been able to work together for a revised agreement that is fair to everyone involved."

The updated "1989 World Tour" Concert Photo Authorization Guidelines released today can be read online here.


These groups were involved in reaching the revised agreement: American Society of Media Photographers, American Society of News Editors, Associated Press, Associated Press Managing Editors, Associated Press Photo Managers’ Association of Alternative Newsmedia, E.W. Scripps Company, Gannett Company, Inc., New York News Publishers Association, News Media Coalition, Newspaper Association of America, Online News Association, Radio Television Digital News Association, and the Society of Professional Journalists