Amidst the back slapping of the ASP reintroducing JBay stalks a dark horse of rights grabbing which is stirring a bubbling pot of frustration amongst previously compliant surf photographers.
If there's one thing which riles photogs most it is having their work pilfered and their commercial value diluted. Under the new rights agreement anyone shooting a World Tour event as an affiliated event photographer must now agree to the following:
"I hereby assign in full the rights to all audio, visual, still image or moving content I generate at the Event to ASP. I agree to deliver the Content to the ASP promptly if requested and in a format indicated by the ASP."
"I further agree not to use the Content, nor to share the Content with any third parties, for commercial or advertising use without the prior written permission of the ASP."
"I may not approach any ASP athlete for any reason without the athlete and ASP Event Media Manager’s permission."
I further agree not to use the Content, nor to share the Content with any third parties, for commercial or advertising use without the prior written permission of the ASP.
In short the ASP are on this evidence ring fencing their event, literally and metaphorically, sliding closed the door allowing independent photographers to portray events as they see fit. And whilst the truth is that it is unlikely that anyone will have to hand over a memory card – after all the ASP have the best cameras and angles at the event sewn up – Kirstin Scholtz and her team don't need your help getting shots. What this does mean is that anything you do with your shots post event must meet with the powers that be's agreement. And how will that be worked out? The answer is "no comment" from the ASP's VP of Communications Dave Prodan.
In practise the don't bite the hands that feeds attitude has historically resulted in some pretty docile dogs nodding along with the pro surfing party line. When a brand flew a snapper out to an event they performed as expected and helped that event look good. Those junkets disappeared alongside belt tightening austerity and the knock on whammy of disappearing editorial budgets have left many who still remember the good old days of a just few years back smarting at a further erosion of what was.
"I’ve followed the tour for the last 20 plus years and eked out nothing more than a meagre living. Now that doesn’t even seem likely anymore."Peter Joli Wilson
"I’ve followed the tour for the last 20 plus years and eked out nothing more than a meagre living. Now that doesn’t even seem likely anymore." Peter Joli Wilson, an ever-present figure on the shoreline of every World Tour stop told Swellnet. "You can shove getting the Content delivered promptly where the sun don’t shine." said Roger Sharp. "With those rules in place no one will bother getting accreditation. And if they honestly think they can stop everyone on the beach shooting they're tripping. But with the attitude they're showing I won't bother with the Euro events."
This latest instalment allied to the current opaque nature of the ASP leaves more questions than answers. How will this work with external companies who sponsor surfers? Will each one have to strike an individual deal to use competitive footage? Will ASP surfers even be able to upload photos of the competition to social media and allow their non endemic sponsors to publish that without prior written agreement?
In tandem with these restrictions the ASP have transferred all their image distribution over to Getty, who generally don't come cheap. Exactly how much using the ASP's own images to promote their event will cost is still up in the air. Getty have sent a credit agreement without any specifics on cost and don't answer emails asking about those costs. Are they are expecting organisations to sign agreements without knowing what they will be paying? Again an issue yet to be clarified for an event which starts in 48 hours.
There is of course another possible scenario. In the rush to become the next closed door super sport the ASP cut and pasted a rights agreement from a major US sport which isn't played out on public beaches. Remember when Instagram adopted Facebook's right's system verbatim and the uproar when people realised they could sell your shots? That mistake was rectified pronto.