Lukas Nelson / 2014

Concert photography has been all over the Internet news this week… and not in a good way. It all started with a band (Red Jumpsuit Apparatus) removed the photographers watermark from an image and used it without permission on their Facebook page. When the photographer contacted the band about this use the band went off the deep end. The ensuing back and forth between the band and the photographer (Rohan Anderson) brought up some very interesting points about copyright and usage. In the end, the band came across looking pretty stupid. The full story can be found HERE.

Some of the more interesting statements made during the exchange between the photographer and the band. This is from the band after the photographer asked for payment.

“You have no legal claim as the photo is credited and is not posted for a monetary gain and features our likeness and image not yours. Also you have just got your self banned from any festival or show we ever play again in that region for life! Congrats!

Sent from my iPhone”

This really shows the blatant misunderstanding about copyright and usage.

But in the end, the band paid the photographer and everything ended up working out for the best….. at least for the photographer.

Then things took a different turn when Shawn Hamm took to Facebook and Twitter and posted the following post about “photographers” trying to sue bands over use of their photos:


For the record, Shawn is the Tour Manager and Bands assistant at Three Days Grace and a Songwriter at BMI. You would think that a person who creates songs would have a different attitude about copyright and copyright protections.

Then a little later in a couple of comments on the original post, Shawn describes the difference between a band using a photo for free (without asking) and someone downloading the band’s music for free.


So to parse what Shawn said. If I take a photo of a person, that person can use the photo as they see fit as long as they credit me in some way. So if the band writes a song about a person, then I assume that the person in the song has the right to use that song as they see fit as long as they credit the band?

The real issue here is that photography is not considered an art form that takes skill, practice and knowledge. The assumption is that since everyone has a smart phone capable of taking a pretty descent photo, photographers are just people who press buttons and not real creatives. The band CREATES the music… The photographer CREATES the photo. The band PAYS for their record. The photographer PAYS for their gear and truing and web hosting and data storage. So if you steal the music from the band, that is wrong, if you steal it from the photographer that’s ok.

And for the record, a person is not entitled to do whatever they want with a picture of themselves. The photographer owns the copyright when the photo is created, it doesn’t matter if the subject is a person, band, or the ocean.

So what does this all mean for the future of concert photography? Probably not much.

What are your thoughts?