Something has happened to The Stone Roses and it’s not good. Over the past week a battle has been taking place over who owns the rights of any professional photographs taken of the band during their forthcoming reunion concerts.
The original contract offered to photographers stated:
(For) the payment by us to you of the sum of £1 The group (to keep) all Rights in perpetuity throughout the world so as to enable us to exploit the Photographs and the Rights as we (and/or they) deem fit without further reference or payment to you. You agree to provide us with digital copies of any or all of the Photographs upon request.
Photographers and artists own the rights to their images unless they sign those rights away. The Roses wanted them to sign all future rights away for a lousy quid, or around a buck-fifty.
As acclaimed photographer Ian Tilton told Dangerous Minds, ‘This kind of contract maybe standard when a band pays for a dedicated professional photographer to shoot a performance, but not for invited Press Photographers.
‘A standard contract would always agree to credit the photographers name.
‘A photographer employed by a top band to take photos at a gig, to be used by the band for publicity purposes only would earn £350-£1000 to take the photos. If the band then want to use the photos in a book the payment would be £80 to £250 per picture. If they wanted to use it on a CD or DVD cover the fee would be an extra few hundred pounds. The Stone Roses were just willing to pay £1 for an ALL RIGHTS buyout. This is insulting exploitation at its worst. - sign the contract and give the Roses ALL RIGHTS or they won’t allow the photographer to take any pictures at the gigs.’
Outraged by The Stone Roses’ contract demands, Tilton organized a campaign via his Facebook page, for press photographers to boycott The Stone Roses tour. After a flurry of texts of emails, a new photo release form was issued on behalf of the band, which now included the following:
The license hereby granted to you to photograph the artist is limited to the above grant only and NO right to sell, license or reproduce the material for advertising or commercial purposes (e.g., for use as posters, calendars, T-shirts, biographies, etc.) either to be sold, to be distributed free or to be otherwise exploited in any manner whatsoever. Nor may any material arising from the said session be reproduced in any publication devoted exclusively or predominantly to the artist unless prior permission has been obtained from THE STONE ROSES and their management.
It would seem that The Stone Roses have become so greedy that they not only want to control their image, but want to exploit others’ work.
As Tilton explained to DM, the reason it is important for photographers to own copyright of their work is because:
‘Photographers employed by magazines get paid only around £40-£80 per shot. Most online magazines pay expenses only. If photographers sell their images on after this ‘first use’ (called syndicating via an agency) they can earn between £20 and £250 per image - and the agency takes 50% of this amount. So you see how important it is to be able to syndicate images after their first use. The better the photo - the more chance it will get used again and again in the future.’
In a statement posted on his FB page, Ian Tilton explained why he and other photographers are against signing this new contract:
‘No - not signing it as it stands. It gives away most of our legal rights to earn future money off our photos. I refuse to sign their contract. I refuse to be made to ask the Stone Roses if my photos can be published in books or used in exhibitions in the future. They should not have control over my ‘art’ - I am the creator and I will control who uses it. That is what the current British law says so why do they want to change it and control our photographs, and control our financial income, outside of the British laws.
They were going to spring the original ‘exploitation contract’ on us when we arrived at Heaton Park but we found out about it. Their new replacement contract is controlling, immoral and takes away our rights that have been hard-won by brave people over the past few decades.
We have the choice to carry on with the boycott and be empowered now and for the future or….we set a precedent to be controlled and disempowered by greedy people.
EACH OF YOU is individually responsible for your own future as photographers and the future of all working photographers YES YOU ARE.’
Ian has also sent the following letter to The Stone Roses Press and Publicity Agent, Murray Chalmers:
Letter to STONE ROSES Press/Publicity Agent - Murray Chalmers at 1pm on Tuesday:
It gives away most of our legal rights to earn future money off our photos. I don’t want to sign a contract that means I will have to ask the Stone Roses if my photos can be published in books or used in exhibitions in the future. They should not have artistic control over my art - I am the creator and I will control who uses it. That is what the current British law says so why do the Roses want to change that and control our photographs, and control our financial income, outside of the British laws.
Most photographers who will be photographing them live at Heaton Park will only be earning between £40 and nothing for their efforts. They rely on being able to syndicate their images to earn extra monies to pay the rent and afford that expensive equipment needed to take great pictures. Surely having great photos of the band freely circulating this can only be good for the band.
They were going to spring the original ‘exploitation contract’ on us when we arrived at Heaton Park but we found out about it. Their new replacement contract is still controlling, immoral and takes away our rights and income that have been hard-won by brave people over the past few decades.
Please will the Roses open communication with us and share their thoughts and feelings. They too are artists so surely, there are no major differences between us.
I’m finding it hard to reconcile that this contract has come from the band I know and love. It is inconsistent with the characters of the individuals I worked with, respected and was friends with when they were on their rise.
They were exploited by record companies and managers so I hoped they would have empathy and understanding for us photographer/artists, borne out of their difficult past personal experiences.
I love the Roses and feel saddened by all this.
The Stone Roses, or those representing them, have got this wrong, and the sooner this error is corrected, then the better it is for the rights of photographers to earn a living from their work.