ASNE and APME have Grande Problems with a New Set of Photographer Credentials

For the past few years, ASNE and APME have collaborated advocacy efforts in support of the First Amendment and FOIA. But one of the first areas of collaboration between these groups was on issues surrounding credentialing of reporters and photographers to cover sports and entertainment events.
Working with (and often leading) other national (and international) journalism associations, we exchanged information about and coordinated responses to restrictive credentialing provisions which ran the gamut from limitations on the amount of video that could be recorded and broadcast/streamed from team facilities on a given day, to the number of updates which could be published (or Tweeted) from an event site, to outright bans from attending practices or non-game events. One of the more constant threats to coverage were restrictions placed on or demands made of photographers covering a game, concert or other event. These are not only becoming more regular but more outrageous in nature, up to and including requirements that photographers sign over the ownership rights to their photos, receiving simply a license to publish those photos for limited news and editorial purposes only.

This article from W Magazine frames the photography issue well (pun intended!) in the context of Ariana Grande's world tour. As the article notes, the " Standard Terms and Conditions for Photographers/Live Appearances" issued by GrandAriTour, Inc. are particularly egregious. They, in effect, convert photographers seeking to shoot a concert or live event into Ariana Grande's personal photographer by, among other things:

  • Requiring the photographer to grant ownership to GrandAriTour, Inc. and Ariana Grande as a "Work for Hire";
  • Requiring the photographer to provide upon demand a complete set of contact sheets and digital files of any and all photographs taken to GrandAriTour, Inc. and Ariana Grande;
  • Allow GrandAriTour, Inc. and Ariana Grande to use any photos for any reason whatsoever;
  • Limiting the photographer's/publication's use of the photo to (a) a single instance use, (b) as part of a news item relating to the performance and (c) only upon express prior approval by GrandAriTour, Inc. and Ariana Grande. The credentials specifically state "[i]f the Photographs are to be printed together with any editorial, news or other informational text, the final edit of such text shall be subject to Artist's prior written approval."

In summary, GrandAriTour, Inc. and Ariana Grande not only own the photos, but they take on an editorial role at your publication (that last requirement is a somewhat new and unusual provision, by the way).

That's why ASNE and APME joined 14 other media organizations and companies on a  letter drafted by the National Press Photographers Association which protests these restrictions. That's about as far as we can take it as your representatives. For legal reasons, the most we can do is notify our members about the existence of this controversy and educate you about the legal issue, as well as continuing to interact with GrandAriTour, Inc. and Ariana Grande on the language of the credentials. It's up to you to decide for yourselves whether you are going to sign these credentials or refuse to cover this tour and related Ariana Grande events.

Please do not hesitate to contact ASNE Legal Counsel Kevin M. Goldberg at 703-812-0462 or if you have additional questions.