Photographers call for boycott of Stone Roses reunion gigs

NUJ condemns controversial contracts asking music photojournalists to sell the rights to their photos of the concerts for just £1

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Photographers belonging to the National Union of Journalists are being asked to boycott the Stone Roses’ reunuion gigs at Heaton Park in Manchester this weekend after being offered a £1 fee to sign contracts waiving their rights to sell the pictures they take on the night.

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The contract asks photographers to “assign to the Group, with full title guarantee, all Rights in perpetuity throughout the world so as to enable us to exploit the Photographs and Rights as we deem fit without further reference or payment to you or any third party.”

Photographers must also agree “to provide [the Group] with digital copies of any or all of the Photographs upon request” while images shot during the concert cannot 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”.

In effect, the contract prevents photographers from selling any of the photos except those initially agreed for use in the publications they are representing at the concert. It would severly limit the money they can make from the job, instead handing the band’s management the rights to do what they like with them.

An NUJ statement said “Too many musical artistes now wish to grab rights from photographers. Having said that, people are surprised that the Stone Roses have chosen to go down this route.

“A photographer must have the right to license editorial use of images without obtaining the band’s permission for each use. The band’s intransigence on this point has led to the organisation of a boycott.

“The NUJ fully supports the boycott and will provide every assistance. We still hope, though, that agreement can be reached even at this late hour.”

Rock photogrpaher Ian Tilton is leading the calls for a boycott. On his Facebook page he said “we care about the future of photography and for photographers having the opportunity to earn a living to pay for their time and camera equipment.

“We hope by bringing this to your attention we can help to embarrass and shame the greed of those who when they started out, probably took every opportunity to have their picture taken (possibly for free) and who have benefited greatly from that early exposure. Who now have lost all sense of respect for that medium which helped bring them to their worldwide attention.” 

But the Stone Roses’ PR manager Murray Chalmers claimed there would still be plenty of phtographers at the gig, telling the British Journal of Photography “There is no boycott.”

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“We have a full [quota] of photographers attending the shows to photograph the band, which I would have happily told the NUJ had they bothered to call me about the assertions they made in their press release,” he said.