Foo Fighters demand bullshit terms from concert photographers

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If I go to their show, do I get forever rights to the music? Just askin’.


Not that I agree with the Foo Fighters stance, but this annoys me. The author of this article states that

all copyrights would transfer to the band

and then follows that up with

Then, here’s the fun part, the band would have ‘the right to exploit all or a part of the Photos in any and all media, now known or hereafter devised, throughout the universe, in perpetuity, in all configurations’ without any approval or payment or consideration for the photographer.”

No. The part about transferring the copyrights was the fun part. THAT is the part the author should be worried about. That part was EVERYTHING. The second part was just a symptom of transferring the copyrights. It doesn’t even need to be in the contract - the Foos would have this right anyway, once the copyrights were transferred to them.

For all the (sometimes understandable) noise the creative industries make about copyright, it continues to amaze me how many of them don’t understand how it works.


It’s a little far-reaching, isn’t it? I mean, first, copyright does expire, even if reassigned. Also, I’m not sure another planet’s government would recognize the Foo Fighters’ claims if it runs counter to their own laws/decrees/idle whims of their imperial robot overlords. They really should get some temporal and extraterrestrial lawyers to check all this out first.


That last part actually seems acceptable to me, if seperated from the bullshit “we own anything you touch part.” They will let you take photos for free (and you can keep the copyright), you let them use them for free. Sounds fair to me. The part that kind of lost me was the supposed “kicker.” I think we’d rightly be howling if a local paper took a picture of a local garage band and then sued them for using it for publicity.

One of the main ideas I took away from the most recent edition of Harvard’s free online CopyrightX course (throughout which I was nowhere near being the most studious of students, but nevertheless managed to pass), was that the contours of copyright law are almost entirely adjudicated, rather than legislated, and that there is enough crossover between different theories of intellectual property protection, regardless of which is most prevalent where, that in this current era of ferment and proliferation around media publication and rights management, it is in one’s best self-interest to claim any and all rights you think your lawyer might be able to get a judge to grant you.

Celebrities like Foo Fighters and Taylor Swift are smart to assert rights over their image, but they might not ultimately consider it so smart to drag a professional photographer into court, to convince a judge that the photographer has no rights over her own creative output. I mean, I.A.N.A.L., by any stretch, but I wouldn’t doubt there are points to raise about the rights of each creative individual involved in this transaction, which might invalidate that signed contract. Or maybe there aren’t, I dunno.


Cory has been really into this “breathlessly enthusiastic and wildly uninformed” schtick for the past couple years at least. I’m not sure what happened; he didn’t used to be like this. Part of me wonders if it’s all an elaborate troll, but I can’t figure out what the angle would be.


Just to be clear, the Foos certainly didn’t write this contract. Their lawyer wrote it, and they might not even know yet.


I wouldn’t be at all surprised if “talent reps” are using this as standard boiler-plate language now. The similarity of wording with the Taylor Swift contract is noticeable. And as … daemonsquire noted previously this is a turbulent time for IP rights. Land grab!


I pity the Foo!


Bullshit? What you call bullshit, I call freedom of contract. Don’t like the terms, don’t sign the agreement (and don’t take the photos). In an age of minimal revenues from moribund album sales, musicians should maximize their control where they can.


It’s unclear to me if these pro photographers are being hired by the band, or are journalists attending the concert. If they’re being hired, clearly the band can put whatever they want into the contract. All sorts of creative people retain no rights to their work when they’re employed in most industries. I always thought it was ridiculous that a wedding photographer you paid retained the rights to your pics. If the latter, I’d love to know what the difference is between that and a paparazzi pic which clearly has no release attached. Are they saying if they don’t sign they’re not allowed in to photograph for their paper? I’d say “we choose not to give free publicity to Foo Fighters”, and walk away.

It’s unclear to you if these photographers, working for the paper, to taker pictures for the paper, are being hired by the band? Do you read, even?

In an article explaining its decision, the newspaper shared a copy of the contract that was provided by the Foo Fighters: “If we signed it, we would have agreed to: the band approving the photos which run in the City Paper; only running the photos once and with only one article; and all copyrights would transfer to the band,” writes the City Paper.


If you’ve ever been in a public place where they’re shooting a movie or commercial, there will be signs up saying that you consent to your image being used “THROUGHOUT THE VERY UNIVERSE AND UNTO THE NINTH DIMENSION AND POSSIBLY EVEN SUBSPACE IF THAT’S A THING” and all that.

It’s boilerplate. Got kind of a poetic flair to it, but it’s not especially meaningful over and above the basic permissions you’re talking about.

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Ridiculous language like this is actually standard for concert photographers. Only the band name at the top of the sheet of paper changes.

So it’s not really fair to pick on the Foo Fighters specifically, all bands should get lambasted for this crap. Especially the ones who have a history of grandstanding about ARTIST RIGHTS when someone downloads a copy of their song without paying.


Alternatively, don’t sign the contract and do take the pictures. Here’s a thing that happened, and here’s a picture of it. If the Foos don’t want to be photographed, they shouldn’t perform without (pixelated) bags on their heads.


You almost certainly won’t be allowed into the venue with a camera unless you’ve got some sort of pass, which presumably you don’t get without signing the contract. That’s obviously gotten watered down since ubiquitous smartphones became a thing, but it’s difficult to take pro-quality concert photos with an iPhone.


It sounds like you’re saying “freedom of contract” includes “freedom from criticism and public disapprobation for bad contract terms.”

Markets include normative dimensions. One of the things that makes markets work is the possibility that doing “unfair” things will be the source of tarnishment to your reputation, which will reduce the number of parties who will trade with you, and cause them to demand surety in their dealings with you.

Citing “freedom of contract” as a reason not to criticize contractual terms is a fundamental misunderstanding of freedom, contracts, and bullshit.


I used to think that Dave Grohl, due to his involvement with Nirvana, was kind of cool. But not after reading this.

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Most places only let photographers work the first few songs or first few minutes.

Musicians are business people, now.

Expect them to tilt the tables towards themselves.