You’ve sold 17 million albums and you want to pay me nothing?
April 19, 2015 1:58 AM   Subscribe

A professional photographer for more than 20 years, and published in Q, Melody Maker and Rolling Stone, Pat Pope has worked with many of the biggest names in pop and rock music, including Oasis, David Bowie and Radiohead. One act with whom he has worked several times are 90s indie titans Garbage. Indeed, they admire Pope’s work so much that recently, as they put together a forthcoming self-published book, their management asked his permission to use one of his pictures of them. So far, so good... Pat Pope’s row with Garbage.
posted by michswiss (93 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's kind of hard not to come down on Pat's side of this, given that he rather succinctly points out the hypocrisy involved.
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:13 AM on April 19, 2015 [8 favorites]


After reading Manson's response I still don't understand why Garbage thinks their request was legit. The band's cool quotient just went down in my books.
posted by oceanview at 2:24 AM on April 19, 2015 [10 favorites]


Because they really like his work! He should work for free for the exposure! They'll have money to pay him once Garbage gets a record deal
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:26 AM on April 19, 2015 [52 favorites]


Facebook drama... on the Guardian?

HASHTAG: UGH
posted by Mezentian at 3:54 AM on April 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


After reading Manson's response I still don't understand why Garbage thinks their request was legit.

I dunno, this bit that Guardian didn't find important enough to include in their article seems to be somewhat relevant: "HAVING ALREADY paid you in 1995 for the entire shoot from which these images were selected, we really didn’t expect such a hostile reception to our enquiry."

So any row here is not about paying someone nothing, it's about paying someone again.
posted by effbot at 3:57 AM on April 19, 2015 [52 favorites]


Fuck you. Pay me.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:14 AM on April 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Pope's open letter

And Garbages original response.

Reading the original letters changes the tone and context entirely from the guardian's spin on it.
posted by Karaage at 4:14 AM on April 19, 2015 [14 favorites]


So any row here is not about paying someone nothing, it's about paying someone again.

Then I guess they should have paid more in 1995 to acquire the copyright to the images, which as the article feels is important enough to point out, the revenue from reuse of old shots makes up a reasonable chunk of Pope's income.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:19 AM on April 19, 2015 [58 favorites]


@effbot They paid for the 1995 shoot and presumably made use of some images. This is a new project, if the 1995 agreement gave them rights in perpetuity I bet it would have been mentioned. As Pope said in his response: 'If I want to release a music album, can I use your music in it if I give you a “proper credit”? .... I’m saying no to a budget that says you can take my work for free and make money out of it.'
posted by epo at 4:22 AM on April 19, 2015 [9 favorites]


Then I guess they should have paid more in 1995 to acquire the copyright to the images

Yeah, this isn't like someone hiring a photographer for their wedding and only finding out afterwards that they have no rights to the only record they have of their own event (which has always seemed really shady to me). When Pope was hired for the original photo shoot it was a business transaction where everyone should have understood what they were getting.

His "Last Word" also mentions that he gets hundreds of requests for free use of his work every year, which may have affected his reaction somewhat.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:45 AM on April 19, 2015 [9 favorites]


The little aria in the Garbage letter about altruism and "artists helping artists" and "we're poor too" and "we wouldn't be doing this self-aggrandizing project except the world really needs it so--sigh!--we're making the sacrifice" and the general moral benefits of unpaid labor are par for the course from people who want a handout.

Every time a would-be client gets huffy with me about money, I think of a time when I was a teenager, and I rode my bike to the park and I was sitting on the grass visiting with some friends. A stranger strolled up to my seemingly-unattended bike, stood it up and climbed on. "Hey, that's my bike!" I exclaimed as I dashed over. "Well I'm just going to borrow it," he informed me, not getting off. I planted my feet on either side of the front wheel and grabbed the handlebars and told him to get off. "I need it!" he insisted. "You're not using it. I don't even have a bike." I just held on tight and said no, no, no. After seemingly endless back-and-forth about this he stalked off with an exasperated shrug, tossing this final retort over his shoulder: "GAWD, possessive aren't you?"

It's my work, and it's my goddamned bike. So yes.
posted by milk white peacock at 4:45 AM on April 19, 2015 [69 favorites]


Then I guess they should have paid more in 1995

The headline here and at Guardian says "nothing" which implies "work for free", which is also what's discussed later in the article. If he's already gotten paid for the shoot, this is a licensing row about a 20-year old photo with unclear commercial value (at least before this row got picked up by media -- has he sold the photo before that?), not someone asking someone else to invest time and effort with nothing in return.
posted by effbot at 4:49 AM on April 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


His "Last Word" also mentions that he gets hundreds of requests for free use of his work every year, which may have affected his reaction somewhat.

Or it might just be a reaction to having someone try to cheat him. I know I don't react well to that, even if I haven't had lots of requests for free stuff.
posted by IAmBroom at 4:49 AM on April 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's actually a sort of strange model, where other artists get a sort of equity in your brand that they can cash in on as it gets more valuable.

That being said, it's such a rough business, being a professional photographer, that things like this are how the profession often works.

That also being said, not a mistake I intend to make.
posted by effugas at 4:55 AM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


They were wrong, and they were wrong to defend their position, but maybe going straight to an open letter is over-escalation when you're supposed to have a friendly relationship.
posted by Segundus at 5:15 AM on April 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


I just hope nobody paid the Guardian writer.
posted by Ashenmote at 5:16 AM on April 19, 2015 [10 favorites]


This has been a very sore spot with professional photographers for a few years.

In 1995, when he did the original shoot, it was well-understood boilerplate that professional media photographers owned all the extra shots from any shoot which weren't specifically bought for purchase by the people who arranged the shoot. The extras regularly found their way to stock agencies and were sold in other ways, generating significant side income for the photographers. And everyone understood this, it's how the industry had worked roughly since the invention of silver halide.

Some years ago I read a rant by a photographer who had received a letter from one of the large media conglomerates informing him that, henceforth, all contracts with them would have to include the rights to all the photos, at of course the usual rates. He was insistent that nobody should work for these jerks who were essentially stealing an income stream that had traditionally belonged to photographers but of course people did work for them, and the new normal is a lot muddier as to who owns the 99 pictures you took that didn't end up in Esquire.

But it wasn't muddy in 1995. He owns those pictures and expects to be paid for them, and is probably quite upset that there is any ambiguity about it at all.
posted by localroger at 5:32 AM on April 19, 2015 [21 favorites]


I just hope nobody paid the Guardian writer.

Journos gotta make bank, son. Even if it is writing about the Kardashians.
But at least it's more than ye olde extended cap, image, extended cap, image thing.
posted by Mezentian at 5:37 AM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


On the one hand, all the band did was ask a question, in private, with no particular pressure to respond one way or another beyond a reasonable level of polite persuasion. That hardly seems like a terrible crime.

On the other hand, I suppose there is an implied insult in even asking. Or at least a level of thoughtlessness, not considering his position. I'm more of a Guess Culture person myself, so I can see that.

On the gripping hand, they (or at least their record company) already used one of his pictures without asking, so I'm not surprised at all that he has little patience for all this from them.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 5:40 AM on April 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Good on him. It is very tiring that anyone who works in the creative arts is just supposed to hand over their work. I am not desperate for name recognition; that's the way I pay my bills, deal with it.

Everyone always claims poverty and expects the writer/artist to do charity work. Forget it, that stunt works on unpaid interns who think they are being shrewd and worldly.

As someone who makes a living as an author, this is the daily excuse. We can't afford to pay you...to which I reply, that means you can't have my work, deal with it, the end, but those designer clothes and you just bragging about your posh house, car, vacation, and private school your brats attend hints that maybe, you just misread your mark and took me for a sucker. Try again with a real dollar figure this time.

I can relate to the re-use issue: I have written articles and work that get recycled: on databases, for instance. If you continue to profit from it; so should I. Otherwise, there comes a gross disparity between parties with the content provider losing money, and with it, the power the comes with it.

Too many creative types are exploited and it becomes the norm -- but it is not acceptable. Bravo for Pope saying it the way he did.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 5:48 AM on April 19, 2015 [15 favorites]


They paid for a license to use certain images for a certain use and probably for a certain time period. They now want to use those images or others from the shoot for another purpose. They need to pay for the additional usage. Being a photographer I can empathize with his frustration. The fact that Butch Vig is worth $60 million and Shirley Manson $8 million while claiming poverty might have contributed.
posted by chris24 at 5:56 AM on April 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


Shirley Manson $8 million?
Citation needed.
posted by Mezentian at 6:01 AM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]




Yeah, as someone working in a textbook publisher I'm on the paying end of this sort of business, and want to emphasise that there's nothing unreasonable at all about a photographer wanting to be paid again for a separate and later use of a given image. The band are absolutely asking for something for nothing here.

They're perfectly ok to cheekily ask for a free use, he's perfectly ok to be a bit cranky in response, but their self-righteous artists-helping-artists hogwash in response has really stuck in my craw.
posted by ominous_paws at 6:08 AM on April 19, 2015 [18 favorites]


I just asked someone for permission to use without compensation a recording they'd made - it was just for inclusion for illustrative purposes on my blog (not a penny to be earned for any of us), and got the best response - "Oh, I've put that in Creative Commons already...".

I must admit I don't quite get the outrage behind this story. It looks to me like a request for reuse outisde the original license, which was turned down. Happens a lot it's not as if the picture was actually used without permission or the photographer suddenly surfaced the lawyers to contest a a done deal. I suppose it might be a bit cheeky of BigPopGroup to ask WorkingSmudge for something for nothing, but it's not exactly a crime to try it on in showbiz. Why it turned into handbags, I cannot say.
posted by Devonian at 6:49 AM on April 19, 2015 [3 favorites]




> 90s indie titans Garbage

Saw them open for the Smashing Pumpkins at the Atlanta Omni Coliseum, which was quite, quite full. Are they still indie?
posted by jfuller at 6:52 AM on April 19, 2015


he's perfectly ok to be a bit cranky in response

Yeah, but as I understand it he went public with a big denunciation of their hypocrisy.
posted by Segundus at 6:53 AM on April 19, 2015


Yeah, part of a lot of negotiation seems to be the lowball offer and snippy response. I don't see why anybody else needs to get involved.

The net result of this exchange is that both artists look worse in public, and it's now probably impossible to make the deal.

Perhaps that's an argument against the lowball offer. Perhaps it's an argument against the snippy response. I don't find that I have a strong intuition on that question.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:54 AM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


The headline here and at Guardian says "nothing" which implies "work for free", which is also what's discussed later in the article. If he's already gotten paid for the shoot, this is a licensing row about a 20-year old photo with unclear commercial value (at least before this row got picked up by media -- has he sold the photo before that?), not someone asking someone else to invest time and effort with nothing in return.

The photo at this point is a good and not a service. In other words, it's an item he made which belongs to him. If somebody else wants to use it, especially if they plan to make money from the use of it, he deserves to be paid for that use of the item.
posted by milk white peacock at 6:57 AM on April 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Are they still indie?

They're not currently signed with a major label, so yes.
posted by kewb at 7:03 AM on April 19, 2015


Frankly if Shirley Manson is worth $8 million based in two (excellent) albums from the 1990s that were launched at the start of the MP3 age.... I am gobsmacked.
posted by Mezentian at 7:16 AM on April 19, 2015


As a layperson my first reaction was "Why didn't he just say 'No' and leave it at that?". I ended up asking friends of mine in the creative business for more info and it looked it it came down to a contractual dispute, and, yeah, either say no or start a negotiation.

Both sides looks bad to me and, in this case, there is indeed harm in asking.
posted by josher71 at 7:17 AM on April 19, 2015


Once you're famous, it seems to me that it's pretty easy to stay rich by charging for random appearances or to have your name attached to a project.

Looking at IMDB, it seems she was in The Sarah Connor Chronicles and also works on the occassional soundtrack.
posted by tofu_crouton at 7:32 AM on April 19, 2015


Frankly if Shirley Manson is worth $8 million based in two (excellent) albums from the 1990s that were launched at the start of the MP3 age.... I am gobsmacked.

Write the lyrics to a few popular songs and you can do pretty well. That's half of the composition royalties right there, depending on the dynamics of your band, and she gets a slab of the performance royalties too — again, depending how the band decides to carve it up. Be less gobsmacked; these people shifted a lot of units, and there was a lot of savvy in the band. The fact that they were able to produce and record their own stuff enabled them to avoid all sorts of record company financial pitfalls. Smart operators.
posted by Wolof at 7:37 AM on April 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


You guys realize cdlebritynetworth.com is made up right? It's tabloid style guesstimating with banner ads.
posted by cyphill at 7:45 AM on April 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


I just realized that Garbage explicitly name checks Amanda Palmer.

That was... probably not a good idea in this instance.

The thing is: artists helping artists can work. I heard David Crosby recently discussing his first "solo" album, "If I could only remember my name," and he mentioned that all those awesome people who play on it were explicitly convinced that collaborations could trump competition, and they were right. You've got major California bands all playing together: Joni Mitchell, The Greatful Dead, Santana, and Crosby Stills and Nash. And the result is one of the best pop albums all time.

The key difference, though, is that all the participants got a piece of the royalties. That's what made it "artists helping artists." If one artist profits and the rest just help, then it's NOT reciprocal and that's the other thing: not "artists helping artists" but "artists exploiting artists."

Palmer and Garbage are abusing the language of mutual aid, for which they deserve to be roundly condemned. It's okay to be a dirty capitalist: we all sometimes have to do that. But don't pretend you're not, in those moments.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:45 AM on April 19, 2015 [15 favorites]


http://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-celebrities/rock-stars/shirley-manson-net-worth/

That's nothing.

posted by Sys Rq at 7:45 AM on April 19, 2015


Yeah, put me down as another person who sees no winners here.

There's nothing morally wrong about asking to use something for free. Sometimes people grant it. I used to work for publisher, and we'r regularly need to permission things. We had a budget, but we'd usually send along a request for usage and then ask for a price. Of course, we would always be looking for ways to save money even though this was a huge, extremely profitable textbook publisher.

We might bargain and negotiate, but we usually didn't ask for it for free up front, which is a little gauche. Bad on Garbage.

Sometimes rights owners say sure- use it and pay us a small fee. Others say yes, but you must pay us an arm and a leg. Others say sure- whatever, use it for free. Others say no, not interested at all. Many would try to negotiate.

What none of them did was write a self-righteous open letter on Facebook about it. Why not just respond and request a fee? What an attention-seeking move that will affect his future licensing opportunities (on the publisher end, once a rights holder gets the reputation for being a pain, you find ways to avoid them... I can think of a couple well known historical figures and musicians where we had a standing "don't waste your time asking for stuff" order from management). Bad on Pat Pope.

Then, of course, bad on Garbage again for coming out and responding publicly (poor form, keep your business off social media), and then trying to pretend this is about anything other than saving money and being cheap.

I wouldn't want to work with either of these folks if I were in the business. They all sound like a pain.
posted by Old Man McKay at 7:47 AM on April 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


Photographers get sensitive about this because it's an even worse problem for them than it is for other creative types. Everybody steals their work and everybody thinks it's perfectly reasonable. Hey, it's just one picture I found on the internet right? Why shouldn't I be able to forward it to my BFF, post it on my website, especially with a funny caption, put it on the side of my truck, or use it in my ad? At least people who copy music and movies generally understand that there is, shall we admit, a bit of controversy about what they're doing. They're forced to because powerful collective organizations like the MPAA and RIAA have used their influence to try to frame the conversaion.

And that's not to say the MPAA and RIAA, who are pirates of a different stripe themselves, are entirely right, but it's very easy to find people who still have no idea there is anything wrong with just taking a picture off the internet and doing whatever you want with it. That's why the guy flew off the handle. Manson is just a small part of a very big problem for him, but as a successful artist she should have known better.
posted by localroger at 7:47 AM on April 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


This is my ignorance showing, but I didn't know it wasn't ok to forward pictures to people.
posted by josher71 at 7:58 AM on April 19, 2015


None of these stories should be surprising news anymore. Even people in the business of "content creation" (hate that term but boy is it useful) believe that intellectual property is a one way street; I should get paid but I should be allowed to use other people's stuff free. Consistently. Over and over and over. Nobody really behaves as if they believed IP rights are genuinely rights. IP rights are simply too squishy, too artificial, too abstract to really engage with our basic emotional monkey sense of morality. There's no reason to expect that will ever change.
posted by Western Infidels at 8:17 AM on April 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


So what if they paid him for the initial shoot? That's how it works--they want to re-use the photo, pay for the right to do so. Doesn't this band get paid every time someone re-uses their work in another medium?
posted by Ideefixe at 8:24 AM on April 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


I should get paid but I should be allowed to use other people's stuff free.

When I think about my own behavior here, I see some of this, and I also see myself doing a dreadful amount of work for free, too. It's a bit confusing, and I think there's maybe a bit too much emphasis on the individual's ability to set their own wage and expectations: largely these contracts follow industry standards, with a few outliers able to set different expectations. No academic would get very far with "Fuck you, pay me" as a norm, which is part of why the university is increasingly structured like the arts: a massive gulf between the (few) people making bank and the rest scraping by. But at some point, the norms have to be adjusted to the new realities.

Some of it seems to be that the norms here are always so local: regional, industry-specific, medium-specific, and attuned to one's position within several competing hierarchies. It's even worse, because some people belong to sub-cultures within their industries that are deeply open-source/CC oriented, and some do not, and that just causes fights.

I run an academic journal and there's an almost 50/50 split between the folks who are deeply offended we work with a publisher and charge for subscriptions and are available through MUSE and JSTOR, on the one hand, and folks who demand that we pay royalties or peer review fees, expand our indexing options, publish more issues a year, etc. You can only do both if you've got a big foundation sugar momma.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:28 AM on April 19, 2015


I agree that it is hard to find a sympathetic figure here. As much as I loathe the variant on "We'll give you great exposure!" Garbage used here, the "open letter" format to settle a private dispute is just cringe inducing. The photographer appears to be less interested in getting this resolved amicably than in grandstanding.
posted by The Gooch at 8:29 AM on April 19, 2015


As much as I loathe the variant on "We'll give you great exposure!" Garbage used here, the "open letter" format to settle a private dispute is just cringe inducing.

Yeah, you're right. These are equally bad problems for artists today.
posted by barnacles at 8:35 AM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Holy shit, they actually referenced AFP themselves as a positive example. Hoo boy.
posted by kmz at 8:39 AM on April 19, 2015


The photographer appears to be less interested in getting this resolved amicably than in grandstanding.

That's because this is a problem in the creative arts that refuses to go away, and people new to the field as well as outside it need to be reminded, whether through an professional association newsletter or an open letter or whatever, that working for free ruins everything for everyone.

If you want all photographers, musicians, writers, and artists to have to have a "real" job 40 hours a week to support their "free" work, you're going to find that the quality of photography, music, literature, and art drops considerably. Your call, I guess.
posted by Awful Peice of Crap at 8:52 AM on April 19, 2015 [9 favorites]


If you want all photographers, musicians, writers, and artists to have to have a "real" job 40 hours a week to support their "free" work, you're going to find that the quality of photography, music, literature, and art drops considerably. Your call, I guess.

I think this situation is radically unjust, but I can't help noticing that as the arts have become more precarious as an industry, with more people working for free or doing the kind of die-by-exposure stuff that is rightly being challenged here, the quality of the product has stayed pretty high, perhaps even rising.

Perhaps it's unsustainable, but I don't think that's a given. I worry more about the idea that quality won't take a hit as the quality of life for artists does. (After all, we got beautiful art out of the 19th Century when the quality of life was much worse for everyone.) Because if there's no drop in quality, then there's even less incentive to do anything about the problem.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:08 AM on April 19, 2015


Jeez, it's just a picture of Garbage. My kid could do that.
posted by gauche at 9:09 AM on April 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


Garbage was an "indie" band?
posted by Nevin at 9:15 AM on April 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


The key point is the PS in his letter, which no one has referenced (hoping you all did read to the end?)

"Just so you know, this is actually an improvement on the management of your "Absolute Garbage" album where the record company just used my work without even asking. I only found this out when I went into a shop and bought a copy, which, when you think about it, has a certain irony."

So it's not like they asked him to use his work for free, and he flipped out. It's that they previously stole his work and didn't even seem to notice that they did so, and now want more.

I'd hit the roof, myself. I would probably have flipped out earlier, when I opened the album I'd just paid for and discovered my uncompensated work.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:30 AM on April 19, 2015 [17 favorites]


Yeah uh garbage was a manufactured band by Butch Vig, who among other things produced Nevermind.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:31 AM on April 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think the point that people working for free negatively affects everyone in a field is valid. I suspect that the unpaid-intern phenomenon is at the root of a fairly astounding headhunter email I got the other day. He said he had a "great" tech-writer position that paid $18 an hour. That was below entry-level pay when I started tech writing 20 years ago, but here he was, offering me that after looking at my LinkedIn profile. If he actually finds someone to take that job, I expect his client will get what they pay for.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:32 AM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


The other wrinkle is that, you know, it's a picture of them.

This guy can whine all he wants about not getting paid (again) for his work, but I bet he doesn't have any moral issue with making money off the band's image without giving them a penny; indeed, that's pretty much his whole business model.

If it was a photo of Not Them (like a tree or something), or if the person asking to use it for free was Not Them (a magazine or whatever), I'd have a lot more sympathy for him.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:33 AM on April 19, 2015


I'm assuming the part about instantly going public with his outrage is probably covered by:

“Garbage have been incredibly vocal in the past about how everybody should pay for music and how artistry should be respected,”

So... admittedly I don't really know much about Garbage, but if that's an actual true statement then I'd be okay with him publicly calling bullshit.
posted by SharkParty at 9:33 AM on April 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


but I bet he doesn't have any moral issue with making money off the band's image without giving them a penny;
So photographers should hire bands not bands hiring photographers?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:36 AM on April 19, 2015


So photographers should hire bands not bands hiring photographers?

If he's making money selling the photos to a third party, yes.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:37 AM on April 19, 2015


Sys Rq, as a picture of them, without a model release from them he is limited to licensing it only editorially, not commercially.
posted by chris24 at 9:40 AM on April 19, 2015


If he's making money selling the photos to a third party, yes.

I wanted to snark about this, but for photography it's a real problem. Photography is a uniquely derivative art form, in that there is a ton of transformative work that goes into making a good photograph but it's still usually got someone else in it, or something made or owned by someone else. (Barring nature photography.)

The convention (which I think is right) is that the photographer brings more than enough to that interaction to hold a copyright in the resulting work. (Certainly the subject doesn't own that copyright.) But this leads to all sorts of bad and weird outcomes and it's worth noticing when that happens--specifically when people who aren't in a business relationship controlled by a contract find that others are profiting from their images. Garbage has little complaint here: they knew the terms when they sat for the photo shoot.

But that doesn't mean that everyone should lose the right to their image for any purpose at all once they leave their homes (or worse, open their blinds.) That's how the legal regime is mostly structured, and mostly for good reason, but there's something intuitively objectionable about it.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:45 AM on April 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


There's nothing morally wrong about asking to use something for free.

I disagree. There is a big, big wrong with it. It comes down to respect and understanding. This is not a hobby or a friendly favour: this is one internationally known business (a band) asking another business (a photographer) for a freebie, and there is everything wrong with it.

You have to compensate the person's time, money, equipment, and materials, but you also have to understand that this is how the person makes a living. You don't go to the grocery store asking for free food or ask your hairdresser or doctor to give you things you have no intention of repaying.

All the band had to do is offer to give the photographer payment if their book made a profit if they were hard up now. If you don't have the funds, then barter with something of equal or greater value or do without, but don't clog up my time with a plan that you are the only one who will be walking away with money.

In my experience as an author and artist, the only people who have the nerve to do this sort of insulting thing are people who can afford to pay. I am also a silversmith and I have had people driving expensive cars ask me to make them silver (and gold) jewelry for free. I have also been asked to give talks and speeches to bored housewives on how to get published -- for free, and I am expected to use my own gas money to drive to their posh houses to do it, as if I was a little worthless peasant who was getting acknowledged by a superior being and I ought to be grateful to be exploited.

This is a bad social habit. It is rude and disrespectful on every level. You can trade equitably. You can pay in instalments, but if it comes to credit or compensation, I will take the cash, thank you.

Pope did nothing wrong. He was right to call Garbage garbage because they ought to know the struggles creative types must endure to make a living. It is a question of respect and when you tell me my work is worthless on your climb to success, don't expect me to allow you to step over me as you get rewarded and I am in the hole because I let some little thug exploit me.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 9:53 AM on April 19, 2015 [27 favorites]


I was a rock photographer back in the 80s. I would have either let them use the shot in a book for nothing as a favor or asked for a small payment based on prominence, but would have been willing to negotiate. I certainly wouldn't have written a bitchy open letter and permanently fucked my relationship with the band over a small thing like a vanity book project. Being on good terms with a big act is a valuable thing in terms of future employment by them and access to the band when working for the music press.
posted by w0mbat at 10:12 AM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Being on good terms with a big act is a valuable thing in terms of future employment by them and access to the band when working for the music press.

So you're saying that giving your work for free to people who assume it isn't worth anything is a great way to give yourself the upper hand when doing business in the future?

That logic is perhaps why you were a rock photographer more than 20 years ago and Pat Pope has been a rock photographer for more than 20 years.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 10:21 AM on April 19, 2015 [9 favorites]


Come on, that's not necessary.
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:33 AM on April 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


What none of them did was write a self-righteous open letter on Facebook about it. Why not just respond and request a fee?

Everyone seems to have missed the fact that Pope has probably now made more than he ever would have had the band's management agreed to pay for the use of the image(s) in the first place. This story has run on several news and blog sites, including using Pope's images (one assumes that the blogs and news outlets didn't make the same dumb mistake that the band's management did).

So, i agree that photographers should get paid. I also think that part of being a successful photographer these days is marketing, and Pope has done that very well.
posted by lawrencium at 10:39 AM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


>You don't go to the grocery store asking for free food or ask your hairdresser or doctor to give you things you have no intention of repaying.

But you do ask for freebies when that is the norm. When you go to the dentist, you get a free toothbrush and toothpaste, because Colgate has decided to trade free stuff for brand recognition. Doctors hand out "trial" packs of certain meds like candy if you ask. When you go to a trade show, vendors pass out freebies in exchange for nothing more than the hope you will remember them, or take a closer look at their booth. Long term vendors that we deal with at work will sometimes throw in a freebie if we ask, because we've been good customers, or to curry favor for an upcoming major deal.

Similarly when people ask photographers to use photos for free, many photographers say "yes". Whether or not Pope likes it, that is the current environment.

This is a business decision for both parties, not a moral one.
On Preview: As has been just pointed out, posting an over the top angry open letter might well have been a smart business decision for Pope as well :)
posted by mrgoldenbrown at 10:48 AM on April 19, 2015


In my experience as an author and artist, the only people who have the nerve to do this sort of insulting thing are people who can afford to pay.

Yes, you learn how cheap and penny-pinching wealthy people can be--perhaps that's how they got to be so wealthy!

I've gotten the same with organizations pulling the "we're a non-profit" card. We all know that many non-profits have lots of money.
posted by girlmightlive at 10:53 AM on April 19, 2015


Handing out toothpaste is not the same as asking someone to provide their service/good for free. The dentist isn't giving out his services for free, he's giving out something someone else gave him. And the reason people ask, and some say yes, is the warped sense of entitlement and value that's been placed on certain arts by the kind of BS Garbage tried.
posted by chris24 at 10:58 AM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Then I guess they should have paid more in 1995 to acquire the copyright to the images,

in the film/TV biz, it's called a buy-out. You pay an actor (or whoever) a little more than scale at the beginning of a project which has no clear future and they are effectively cut loose from any future royalties, residuals etc. It's kind of a scummy way of doing business, because what actor doesn't need a few more bucks right now? But at least it "gets it in writing".

and ummm ...

There's nothing morally wrong about asking to use something for free.

I disagree. There is a big, big wrong with it.


can we please not argue morality here? Ultimately God is the only judge there, and everybody knows he hates having his picture taken.
posted by philip-random at 11:01 AM on April 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


As a layperson my first reaction was "Why didn't he just say 'No' and leave it at that?".

Top get publicity and make money of their images. The whole public letter thing was irretrievably staged by the Guardian, and the people getting outraged on his behalf? They're useful tools.
posted by happyroach at 11:05 AM on April 19, 2015


Being on good terms with a big act is a valuable thing in terms of future employment by them and access to the band when working for the music press.
This may be true, but Garbage isn't a big act, and they are only going to go further down the hole of obscurity. "Hitch your wagon to my star" only really works if you have a legit star, ya know?
posted by holyrood at 11:05 AM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think this situation is radically unjust, but I can't help noticing that as the arts have become more precarious as an industry, with more people working for free or doing the kind of die-by-exposure stuff that is rightly being challenged here, the quality of the product has stayed pretty high, perhaps even rising.

Why is this surprising? Real artists don't do it for the money, so they're going to put out the good material regardless of if it leads to compensation or not. Sure, many of them will drop out of the business altogether, but there will always be young people with a dream and a talent.

Another reason is that technology has made making "quality product" much easier. I'm just some guy with a few thousand dollars of gear and a hobbyist's experience, but I was able to translate a few hundred dollars' time in a nice little recording studio with my improvisational band and a several tens of hours on the computer into a slick produced master (example track here - I'm on vocals and processing).

Now, I don't know if any of you reading ever heard the original LP mastering of Miles Davis' On The Corner. It's notoriously bad, murky and hard-to-understand. It received brutal reviews.

Objectively, my mix is far better than that - a more quality product.

But I really did nothing special - I bought various pieces of more or less standard software, understood how they worked, played a little with them. Not so many hours of work, and much of the hard work is handled by the various dynamic and EQ tools I can just drop onto my track, where some other programmer spent a great deal of time working on how to let me dig out structure intuitively. We recorded in someone's professional house studio for $50 an hour - with mics and recording gear that were worlds better than the best available to Miles.

In adjusted dollars and resources, we probably spent between 1% and 10% of what Miles spent on his project.

Now, I picked On The Corner precisely because it wasn't, in fact, "quality product". It was a masterpiece, somewhat obscured by poor engineering. It was the latest result of decades' work on Miles' part, and it took years for people to understand how radical it was.

I'm only talking about the production part here - what about the content? Well, the technology provides us with that too - for "quality product". I can buy all the parts of a piece of music and spice them up to represent my specific viewpoint. If I was a smart angsty teenager 40 years ago, I'd at least have to learn how to play a guitar or a piano - and my flaws in technique would stand out. But now that same angsty teenager with a few bucks to spare can put together a pretty convincing album by buying a drum machine, a keyboard, and a mixer - they don't even really have to have melodic or rhythmic ideas, all these parts can be purchased and tweaked a little.

I see about a hundred bands/musicians/acts a year, perhaps more. Probably 70 of them are something in that category - smart young people with some good ideas and equipment. It's almost all quality product, for sure. I have a couple of thousand CDs of such material, some of which I dearly love after years. A very few of them go on to something. Mostly they come and go, 99% of them, even the best of them - the rest go on to "real jobs".

The trouble with all this quality product is that it makes brilliant work hard to stand out. My friend Seth is a brilliant player welcome in venues all over the world - I saw him playing solo once grab and keep riveted the attention of a Berlin festival with hundreds of people who'd never heard of him and who had basically talked right through the previous half dozen quality acts - but he doesn't get paid any more than these quality acts, who won't be there in five years. He makes a living by the skin of his teeth and by fairly prodigious output and by living in upstate New York.

If you want to think of this in terms of economics, it's again the young 1%-ers dabbling in creative ventures for a while, doing a "good job" at it due to mankind's generally improved knowledge of how to delivery "quality product" in all these areas by the suitable application of money - and then going off to their real jobs as bankers and lawyers. Since they're not in it for the money, they don't really care if they're undercompensated.

We're losing a whole set of voices here, but what can you do?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:20 AM on April 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Garbage was an "indie" band?

Technically, so were 'Nsync and Backstreet Boys (both signed to Zomba, a non-major).

“Indie” as a measure of cultural status is a fuzzy thing, and tapers off somewhere between the scale of Sarah Records and 1980s 4AD.
posted by acb at 11:29 AM on April 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


> Why is this surprising? Real artists don't do it for the money, so they're going to put out the good material regardless of if it leads to compensation or not.

Counterpoint (see what i did there?): Mediocre forces good out of the market place and great all but disappears. In the case of Levi’s you give these jeans a special name, like “signature”. When it comes to photography you simply call it “art”.

Also: Commodified imagery threatens photographers’ primary role as storytellers. Amplified technique threatens to dominate the image, and it will lead to picturesque gluttony. We, the news, and our understanding of the news are poorer for it.

Most photographers are not artists, they are tradespeople making a living doing something that is often conflated as "art".
posted by lawrencium at 11:37 AM on April 19, 2015


I guess he got that free exposure he was promised lol
posted by a lungful of dragon at 11:54 AM on April 19, 2015


The whole public letter thing was irretrievably staged by the Guardian

Are you saying the Guardian put Pope up to this?
posted by josher71 at 11:55 AM on April 19, 2015


Not sure whether Pope's Last Word blog post has been posted in this thread (though it has been mentioned)*, but:
Why did I write an Open Letter?
  1. People think this is a one off request for special dispensation from one particular group of artists just trying to make one specific project happen. It isn't. I receive hundreds of these requests a year, as does every other photographer I know. This is the new normal - writing down a budget in which you'll get the photographic content for free by making the photographer give it to you. How will you make them give it to you? By quietly abusing the power relationship.
  2. The Power Relationship. Garbage stated in their response that they "humbly requested" the use of my work for an "artistic collaboration". To be clear, Garbage didn't contact me at all. Garbage paid someone at their management company to send me a pro-forma request for free usage of my work. When you receive a request like that, the power relationship is that a gigantic branded entity with huge reach and backing is asking a lone freelancer to accept that the value of their work is zero. Your two choices are to give them the permission, valuing your work at zero, or to refuse permission, in which case they will quietly remove you from the list of freelancers they work with so you won't get any future work. This has happened to me time and again when refusing or granting permission. If Garbage don't understand that this is the nature of these requests then they need to spend less time reading Amanda Palmer and slightly more time investigating how power and control work.
  3. When writing the original Open Letter I honestly believed that Garbage probably didn't know that this was happening in their name. I've met and socialised with the members of the band on several occasions. I remain a fan, not just of the band but of the artists as people. When I wrote the letter I genuinely expected that this would be an opportunity for them to step forward and stand up for artists. I know hundreds of people working in the creative industries would have stood alongside them had they chosen to do that. To be honest, I sort of regret choosing them for the Open Letter format because of their response. It wasn't my intention to embarrass them or accuse them of anything; they're great people, we just disagree on this which I'm disappointed and surprised by.

* This is probably a weird place to confess that my thread reading comprehension isn't all that it could be.
posted by Grangousier at 11:59 AM on April 19, 2015 [10 favorites]


This is my ignorance showing, but I didn't know it wasn't ok to forward pictures to people.

And this is why Pat Pope flew off the handle. You do realize it's not OK to rip a song from a CD and send it to a friend, right? We had that argument back when Napster was still around, and it got shot down big time.

But it sounds ridiculous doesn't it? Why people have been sending each other snaps since the invention of photography! But those snaps were physical objects and for the most part were taken by the senders. If they were cut out of magazines they were still physical objects which had been paid for, the ads eyeballed, or whatever justification made for their original presence.

But if you copy-image from a website and attach it to a LOL LOOKIT THIS email, you are publishing it. You are also almost always removing it from its original context and failing to attribute it properly. Most people would overlook the one-off version of this as unstoppable human behavior, but it's not a black or white thing; it's a very broad continuum which rapidly goes south as you generalize it.

Suppose instead of one friend you send it to 10, or 100, or if you're one of those people all 10,000 on your mailing list. At what point do you admit it's publication? Maybe you're not getting paid for it but suppose that free list serves as advertising for your real business. Maybe your list is small but like Rusty Foster's it consists of big players who might repost or retweet it themselves, this time with zero possibility of correct attribution, and further millions of views none of them paid for.

This is why Pope flew off the handle. He is being ripped off like this on a constant basis by people who don't even realize they are doing anything wrong, and Garbage, a band which has itself been very vocal about piracy of its own product, is piling on. They of all people should have known better.
posted by localroger at 12:08 PM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I regularly see various twitter accounts ( probably quite a few of them automated ) reposting photographs without mentioning the original artist at all ( for example: @HistoryInPics ). For a visual artist, this is beyond maddening. It simply erases the person who so skillfully -- often so laboriously -- produced the image. None of the money made by those responsible goes back to the artist. ( Welcome to the internet, right? )

In this case, Garbage did at least bother asking permission to use the photograph. Mr. Pope's response was beyond civil under the circumstances.
posted by Kikkoman at 12:10 PM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah uh garbage was a manufactured band by Butch Vig, who among other things produced Nevermind.

I always get Garbage mixed up with Gay Dad.
posted by Nevin at 12:46 PM on April 19, 2015


While I'm not sure why this had to be aired in public, it's completely ridiculous for these (rich) jokers to ask for a freebie.

In my line of work (news editor and producer), I need to find images all the time. I make absolutely sure to source from either our paid service, or from images that *clearly* have a CC commercial use license.
posted by Nevin at 12:49 PM on April 19, 2015


A friend of mine is an author. He's a great guy, love to have some drinks with him.

He literally wrote a book about internet ethics for children. Good on him; great to have children thinking about these issues.

He wrote another book (he's written several) that he gave me (thanks man!) and autographed it for me... Very cool of him.

So I'm flipping through the book and find an image that I recognize (hey, a picture of me, yay ego). The thing is, I've met the photographer. She's a professional. She made it to a conference on her own dime, then shot a bunch of photographs; she set up the lighting, convinced a half a dozen people to spend some time with her for the photo shoot - she went through a lot of work to create this set of photos.

So I ask my friend if he paid for the photo in the book.

"Um, no, I found it on the internet."

My response to (the author of the internet ethics book) him, "Huh, that's funny dude, because I found a copy of photoshop on the internet. While I may have downloaded it, that was certainly not ethical, and absolutely illegal. Oh, hey, funny thing about the photographer; her brother is a prominent intellectual property attorney."

So yeah, even people that think they are ethical creatures don't give a shit about the intellectual property of photographers. In this case, they didn't even have the common decency to ask for the photograph for free, they just took it.
posted by el io at 1:05 PM on April 19, 2015 [14 favorites]


[Garbage] need to spend less time reading Amanda Palmer and slightly more time investigating how power and control work.

Oh, snap.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 1:06 PM on April 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


The photographer appears to be less interested in getting this resolved amicably than in grandstanding.
Good for him! We need to have every abuse of this kind shouted from the rooftops if only to remind some clueless individuals that it not only exists, but it is a shockingly common occurrence. Pope has made a courageous move because he's now the photographer seen by potential clients as "somebody we can't take advantage of, so don't bother". And that's going to cost him business (maybe not his best business, but business nonetheless). This needs to be "aired in public" by all artists suffering from the same "exposure".
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:26 PM on April 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


He didn't take a candid of them at a concert--they hired him to take the photos. If the band wanted to buy all rights to the photos, forever, they should have thought of that when they arranged the photo session in the first place.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:29 PM on April 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


The Garbage back catalogue (25% owned by Ms Manson) still brings in millions every year in publishing income. They're not hurting enough that they can't pay for a few snaps for a book.
posted by fernbritton at 1:44 PM on April 19, 2015


I'm very glad that Pat Pope is comfortable enough in his career to be able to take the low road and publicly call out this very, common, shitty request. From the looks of my Facebook feed over the last month, several other photographers seem pleased as well.

The high road would have been to decline and make a counter-offer with back end royalties, a number higher than zero or even a sandwich, but because he has had negative interaction with the band (or their management at least) in the past and since Shirley Manson has put herself out there as someone-who-pens-open-letters, he did the same.

While making a hero of himself to other photographers, he is not making himself look good in the eyes of the people likely to hire him or the general layman who (judging by several of the commenters on his original post) don't seem to understand that there is a standard set of contracts and royalties that the band's request, though not uncommon, is acting to supercede.
posted by elr at 2:49 PM on April 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


I can't help noticing that as the arts have become more precarious as an industry, with more people working for free or doing the kind of die-by-exposure stuff that is rightly being challenged here, the quality of the product has stayed pretty high, perhaps even rising.

Really? I've noticed the opposite. What I can't help noticing is an overall lowering of knowledge and expertise, expectations and standards.
posted by slkinsey at 3:38 PM on April 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


But you do ask for freebies when that is the norm. When you go to the dentist, you get a free toothbrush and toothpaste, because Colgate has decided to trade free stuff for brand recognition. Doctors hand out "trial" packs of certain meds like candy if you ask.

Actually, I do pay for those giveaways with those multi-billion dollar companies jacking up the price of their products to give their cheap crap stuff away. They can keep it. That is just advertising people pay for. You have to shell out one way or another --directly or indirectly.

And it is not the same. I do not give away my labour, either. I also do not go looking for freebies because even with graft, you are expected to buy the product with that strategic goodwill gesture.

There was no goodwill gesture offered to Pope. No "we'll pay you later", or "we'll compose a jingle about you in exchange for those pictures."

Memo to the naive: It is exploitation. It is exploitation. It is exploitation. It's a trap, kids -- don't do it!
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 7:28 PM on April 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Garbage: "Before we scrapped the idea of producing the book entirely, we decided instead that we would take a leaf out of Amanda Palmer’s book “The Power of Asking.”

Oops, I found your mistake, Garbage.
posted by oceanview at 12:11 AM on April 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


Coincidentally, Duke Erikson's daughter Roxy is a photographer.
And to say "... garbage was a manufactured band by Butch Vig..." is just plumb ignorant.
posted by Floydd at 1:58 PM on April 20, 2015


HAVING ALREADY paid you in 1995 for the entire shoot

Sweet. I'm so glad you feel that way. HAVING ALREADY paid you for a couple of CDs back in whenever it was but having since lost them* can I have them on iTunes for free**?

*They're probably in the garage but I'm not going in there because spiders.
**I won't listen to them because hey fuck you.

posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:43 AM on April 21, 2015 [1 favorite]




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