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Ariana Grande performing live, YouTube screen grab
Ariana Grande performing live, YouTube screen grab

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Ariana Grande's copyright grab – too much, or justified?

Singer Ariana Grande is on the wrong side of photographers after it was revealed she is forcing photographers at her upcoming concerts to sign over all the rights to their photos.

Grande is offering a new contract to photographers, who will be limited to taking images during a concert's first three songs from a 'designated spot,' and all images are captured on a work-made-for-hire basis.

Also, all rights related to the images are transferred to the singer's company GrandAriTour Inc. And the contract specifically mentions that this includes "all copyrights." The photographers can use the shots they took just once for a news story, and with written permission from Grande.

At previous performances, photographers could take all the photos they wanted. This would allegedly lead to Grande merchandise on the market, including photo books, calendars, and other works featuring her likeness.

Just a cursory look at Amazon reveals merchandise sold by third party sellers. We are not sure if they had the permission to sell items with Grande's image: a calendar, a poster of Grande in concert, and even a prayer candle.

Grande's stand has raised an outcry from professional photographers.

So far, 15 media outlets have enlisted the aid of the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) to take on the forced agreement.

The NPPA has released a letter that opposes Grande's stand. It said: "As a creative artist herself, we cannot understand how Ms. Grande and her representatives could demand such terms and conditions in exchange for permission to photograph her performance."

Calling it a "surprising and very troubling overreach", it said Grande's action "runs counter to legal and industry standards and is anathema to core journalistic principles of the news organizations represented here."

The letter calls for a revision to the terms of the agreement.

Music stars are no strangers to such contracts. In 2011, Lady Gaga issued a contract requiring a Washington, D.C.-based television photographer to sign away his photo rights to her, and in 2015 Taylor Swift was accused of rights-grabbing by some news outlets who were forced to comply with unusually strict shooting rules.

We have previously covered how a photographer was banned by the metal band Arch Enemy after he tried to get payment for a photo of the band that was used without his permission – the band had thought it was legal to copy his photo and use it without his permission since they appeared in it.

It seems the only person to benefit from this is Grande's in-house photographer, who takes photos that are approved by Grande.

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Mark Laudi

Mark Laudi

Press contact Managing Partner (+65) 6223 2249

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