When Britney Spears plays Stockholm’s Globe Arena on July 13, the press photographers’ pen could be a little empty… According to thelocal.se and Sydsvenskan.se (translation), photographers from all four Swedish national newspapers are boycotting the event because of a conditional agreement which would hand over copyright ownership of any pictures Spears likes over to her management. Spears’ team also wants to stop pictures they don’t like from being published.
Sydsvenskan’s own picture director Lars Berg Dare says: “We cannot go there with the (demands) that Britney Spears makes… Our own copyrights, we cannot let go.” Swedish papers Dagens Nyhter, Aftonbladet and Svenska Dagbladet are also staying away unless the demands are removed. We were alerted to this by Pirate Bay impresario Peter Sunde, who highlights the issue on his blog — though naturally he thinks anyone profiting from copyright is wrong and sees greed “on both sides” of this case.
Promoter AEG Live says (via thelocal) it is merely following orders from Spears’ management, which ultimately come from the pop star herself. But they will still make photographers, particularly freelancers, shudder with disbelief: organisers state that no photos from the gig are to be published after more than 30 days — online or in print — and that no pictures are offered for re-sale after their original publishing.
Outraged though the Swedes may be, music promoters imposing such conditions is nothing new in entertainment — while there are similar problems in sports coverage, as the 2007 Rugby World Cup showed. Nick McGowan-Lane, editor of the Editorial Photographers UK site says “It’s not uncommon for photographers going to gig will be asked to sign away something. The mechanisms vary but but it’s generally designed to control the use of the images.” Dolly Parton annoyed Norwegian photographers in 2007 by insisting they hand over cameras after her gig for unflattering pictures to be deleted (via Aftenposten).