Our letter on restrictive media credentials in entertainment industry
One of ASNE's freedom of information issues in recent years has been the credentialing of reporters and photographers who are covering sports and entertainment events. For years, the focus was almost exclusively on pro sports leagues, teams, venues and events, as well as major college conferences. We actively and, to some extent, successfully, held discussions with most of the major sports leagues and the NCAA on coverage issues. Those discussions continue on a regular basis and have created what many consider to be a strong working relationship between the teams/leagues/venues/events and the media; even where issues arise, they are generally dealt with pretty quickly.
Although credentialing agreements themselves are not new to the entertainment industry, we are becoming increasingly aware of particularly restrictive credentialing agreements issued to photographers and videographers in this area, especially in order to cover concerts.
ASNE has been working with other journalism organizations on this issue on a regular basis. We successfully engaged with Taylor Swift in the face of some troubling restrictions issued to photographers seeking to cover her "1989" tour earlier this year, which resulted in modification of her credentials for that tour. However, we haven't been so lucky in other instances. For instance, credentials issued by the Foo Fighters and Janet Jackson have had very restrictive provisions. Among the provisions found in these and other credentials issued to reporters this year are:
- Permission to photograph during only 30 seconds during the first and second songs only
- Demands for co-ownership of all photos or videos taken and in some instances, demanding that the artist or his or her management company own the photos or videos outright
- Reserving the right for the artist to use photos or videos for his or her commercial purposes but denying a similar right to the photographer
- Attempting to play editor by demanding a right of pre-approval of all photos or videos before publication in print or online.
We are not telling you to refuse to sign these credentials or create some other type of industry-wide boycott. This is a decision you must make for yourselves, especially as it often comes down to a choice between signing the agreement or not covering the event in question. Instead, we hope to make your decision a better-informed one.
That's actually a goal we've been striving to achieve for years. We're trying something new. We hope to better focus attention on this issue by joining 11 other media organizations on the "Open Letter to Performers Regarding Standard Conditions for Photographers Live Appearances Agreements."
We also hope to educate not only ASNE members, but also performing artists and the public about the impact of these restrictive agreements. We invite you to publish the letter as an op-ed from the 12 organizations or otherwise include it in your coverage.
At a minimum, we hope you'll read the letter and think about the credentials you'll be asked to sign in the future from a new perspective. Know that you're probably not the only one struggling with this issue. Contact ASNE legal counsel Kevin M. Goldberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-812-0462 if you have any questions about these issues.