Taylor Swift may be the queen of modern pop music, but her latest tour has ruffled more than a few feathers with its aggressive approach to controlling media distribution. The first to complain were photographers, many of whom believed the ‘1989’ creator’s photo release form to be outright ridiculous. As photographer Jason Sheldon explained in his open letter to Swift, the photo waivers for the pop star’s concerts stipulate that a photographer can use the images from the show only once and only within the published report on that performance. That means they can’t sell it to other editorial outlets, nor can they sell prints of the image in any way.
While this is not an entirely uncommon set of guidelines for a photo release, it is only the tip of the iceberg on for Swift. As COS points out, “the real kicker is not the rights it takes from the photogs, but what it gives Swift and her team. The contract states that Swift and Firefly Entertainment have the ability to use any concert photographer’s images themselves for any publicity or “non-commercial purpose” in perpetuity. In other words, they can use a photographer’s work in marketing material and not pay them a penny.”
None of these restrictions have applied to photos taken by fans, of course, but only because fans are rarely in a position to snap a high quality photo of Swift during her performance. The photos fans take are often zoomed in shot of the pop star taken from a great distance. They’re the kind of thing people share on their Snapchat story, or in a thread with friends who could not attend, which is a long way of saying the pictures fans captures are intended for non-commercial use. Apparently, this is still not good enough for Taylor Swift and/or her team because a new story circulating online points to even more aggressive restrictions being placed on media captured during Swift’s latest tour.
As TorrentFreak first broke late last week, Taylor Swift in her team have reportedly been issuing dozens of takedown notices to fans and media who use Periscope to capture her performances. The videos, often shared by some of the most passionate fans, are seen as apparently being viewed as copyright infringement. Swift has surrounded herself with a dedicated enforcement team called TAS Rights Management who swiftly take them offline. An example of one a takedown notice currently being distributed can be viewed below:
As far as we know, Taylor Swift is the only artist who has assembled an entire takedown task force to protect what she perceives a copyrighted material. She is not, however, the only person to issue takedown notices for Periscope broadcasts. Many brands, including sports organizations like the NFL, NBA, WWE and Premier League, also have teams working to make sure their broadcasts are not replicated or shown without their consent.
While we understand Swift’s desire to keep the best parts of her show a secret for those who pay to see her, we can’t help but feel her secret task force may eventually do more harm than good. A big part of why we enjoy social media as a culture is the way it allows us to share experiences instantaneously. Swift is essentially trying to prevent that type of interaction from happening whenever the media being shared involves her, and in a way its only serving to mute her most dedicated fans. Call us crazy, but we don’t really see the benefit in that. Do you?