Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

Taylor Swift Hypocrisy

Taylor Swift may have scored a quick victory against Apple, but it seems she has issues in her own house that she needs to clean up. As many may have already heard, Apple has back-pedalled and agreed to pay music artists for streams even during Apple Music users’ free trial period. Taylor Swift was the cause of it.

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The issue was that Apple hadn’t originally planned on paying artists for their music during Apple Music’s free trial period. Taylor complained that it wasn’t fair. “We don’t ask you for free iPhones,” she said, “Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.”

Funny enough, a photographer quickly pointed out that Taylor’s own contracts with photographers were also very unfair. Taylor was herself also attempting to deprive photographers of potential income from their own work. Taylor’s agents rebutted, weakly in my opinion, and misses the point. Then, the said photographer, Jason Sheldon, blasted their rebuttal too.

There are many contracts that are very unfair. Someone usually has the upper hand, gets to call the shots, and makes everything and everyone work in their favour. That’s how life is. You learn to deal with it. You could, difficult as it may be, but you could attempt to change how the industry works. But most of the time, people just play along.

I wouldn’t ordinarily take sides with photographers. I fall into that category of people who resign to accept that each industry has their own way of doing things. Except that in this case, since Taylor started the fight with Apple, I think she totally deserves it.

Just to quickly highlight some pertinent points of Taylor’s photo contract:

  • Photographer can use the photos for one-time only for a specific named publication.
  • Unless specifically approved by Taylor’s agent, photographer may not even use the said photos on personal website or on social media.
  • On the other hand, Taylor reserves the right to use the said photographs in perpetuity. The contract says for non-commercial purposes, but then goes on to state “including but not limited to publicity and promotion on their web sites and/or social media accounts or pages”, which basically would reasonably encompass commercial use, clearly, means, their rights are practically unlimited.
  • Photographers risk having their gear confiscated or destroyed. How draconian.

Hopefully she wakes up to realise how unfair she has been treating photographers, industry practice notwithstanding, and step forward to make things right.

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