NMC Calls for Dialogue Over Celebrity Photo Restrictions

The News Media Coalition is leading a call for the entertainment industry to engage with the news media over the issue of increasingly restrictive credentialing agreements for photographers and videographers covering major events.

The NMC said increasingly restrictive credentialing agreements are being issued to photographers and videographers in particular for covering concerts. In response, the NMC has decided to sign, along with ten global media organisations, an ‘Open Letter to Performers Regarding Standard Conditions for Photographers Live Appearances Agreements.’

The co-signatories to the letter are the American Society of News Editors, Associated Press Media Editors, Associated Press Photo Managers, Association of Alternative Newsmedia, Newspaper Association of America, National Press Photographers Association, Online News Association, Poynter Institute, Radio Television News Directors Association and the Society of Professional Journalists.

The letter urges performing artists and their representatives enter into “meaningful dialogue” with photographers and the news media to find agreements benefiting all parties, including the public. It has also clarified clear redlines.

It highlights that “terms, conditions and provisions that demand joint – or sometimes outright – ownership of the photos or videos our members capture are unacceptable.” It also makes clear that demanding the right to expressly approve any images before they are published “is in direct opposition to the notion of a free and fair press.”

Increasingly onerous terms and conditions for photographers’ access to concerts have become particularly apparent this year. Troubling restrictions for access to Taylor Swift’s “1989” tour were only modified after significant engagement and the refusal of several news agencies to cover the events. No or few compromises were struck with performers imposing similar terms such as the Foo Fighters and more recently, Janet Jackson, the NMC added.

The open letter is intended to raise awareness to the most significant credentialing issues seen this year: the permission to photograph restricted to 30 seconds for the first and second songs only, co-ownership of all photos/videos taken and in some cases, demanding that the artist or his or her agency fully own the photos or videos, reserving the right for the artist to use photos/videos for commercial purposes whilst denying the photographer’s right to do so, demanding a right of approval of all photos or videos before publication in print or online.