Robster pics a fight

AS REPORTED in the September Freelance, copyright is indeed becoming sexy after all. The Daily Mirror's "outrageous" gossip column of 19 September 2006, in a piece attributed to the "3am Girls" Eva Simpson and Caroline Hedley, used the sort of language you'd expect to see in the Freelance rather than in a pop celeb scandal-type thing.

Accompanied by the now-fashionable Robbie Williams-boycott blank space pic, The 3am Girls reported "a major backlash over contracts the singer is forcing photographers to sign before gigs making snappers release the rights to their photos, so he can use them on merchandise and pocket any money the pictures make after their initial use."

Freelance Danny Clifford was commissioned by the Mirror to photograph Williams' Milton Keynes gig. The Mirror's celeb watchers said of his one-man boycott; "our snapper  claims it's one of the most outrageous contracts he's seen and won't sign it - which is why we've chosen not to use a picture of the falling star either... The European Federation of Journalists has urged members to boycott events, such as the Robbie concerts, where journalists must abide by unfair restrictions. It looks like the Robster is getting his comeuppance."

Other accredited photographers just signed, assuming the contract was unenforceable.

Stuttgart newspapers boycotted a Bon Jovi gig under similar contracts giving ownership of all images to "the artist". While some NUJ photographers lost work as a result of similar contracts in the UK, others have reportedly "sneaked in regardless".

The NUJ's Freelance Industrial Council contacted the Musicians' Union, feeling that some of the artists weren't aware of the contracts being imposed in their name. The MU has offered the NUJ space in its magazine. We have also heard reports of restrictive contracts around David Gray and Robert Plant gigs.

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