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Made of Stone?

A SERIES of comeback gigs by well-known indie band Stone Roses at Manchester's Eaton Park in July was preceded by a "quite appalling" contract being sent to photographers who were due to cover the gigs. You can see a copy of the contract here.

Ian Tilton, who was among the NUJ member photographers who helped organise a photographers' boycott of the Stone Roses gigs, told the Guardian that the initial contract offered by the Stone Roses only allowed the pictures to be used in the publication that had commissioned them.

Far worse, for a flat £1 fee, the Stone Roses would own all rights to use the pictures on their own merchandise, forever. (Ian had earlier taken some of the photos used on Stone Roses albums.) Stone Roses management declined offers to negotiate on the terms of the contract.

NUJ Freelance Organiser John Toner explained that "a photographer must have the right to license editorial use of images without obtaining the band's permission for each use... The band's intransigence on this point has led to the organisation of a boycott."

The NUJ boycott gained the support of the British Photographic Council, the Royal Photographic Society, Master Photographers Association and the British Institution of Professional Photography. One music website that was contacted by the Stone Roses' PR company then enquired at the NUJ about the boycott, as a result of which their photographer joined the boycott as well.

In the event, the gig was covered by some professional photographers. But despite Stone Roses' PR manager, Murray Chalmers, telling the British Journal of Photography "there is no boycott," the media trade press and music press widely reported a boycott by "dozens" of photographers. For a short while, a Google search on "Stone Roses" would take you to "Stone Roses photographers boycott". As result of the considerable publicity generated, several rock photographers joined the NUJ.

Last modified: 03 Sep 2012 - © 2012 contributors
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