Artist News

Garbage respond to photographer’s refusal to grant use of pictures for free in new book

By | Published on Tuesday 7 April 2015


Garbage have responded to an open letter to the band from photographer Pat Pope, who questioned why he was being asked for permission to use his work in a book marking the band’s 20th anniversary for free.

In his letter last week, Pope wrote: “Today I received an email from your management company Big Picture Music Co. It’s a very nice email, and in it they announce that you’re working on a book about the band which you plan to self-release next year. The email says that you really like some of the photos I took of you and would like to use them in your book. It also says that in return for the use of my photos you will give me a ‘proper credit’ but that given it is planned to be a self release the budget is ‘financially limited’, by which your management company mean ‘we’re not going to pay you'”.

Admitting that going public with his gripes about all this could be “professional suicide”, he added: “Obviously that worries me, but it worries me more that musicians and others are saying one thing publicly about the needs for artists to be paid for their work whilst privately people working for them are doing exactly the opposite”.

He concluded: “No, you don’t have my permission to use my work for free. I’m proud of my work and I think it has a value. If you don’t think it has any value, don’t use it. I’m saying no to a budget that says you can take my work for free and make money out of it”.

In response, the band wrote on their official Facebook page: “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”.

Despite this apparent claim that they don’t need to pay for further use of the photographs when the costs of the original shoot were covered (what that says about copyright ownership in the pictures isn’t clear), the band added that the book is “not intended as a profit generating venture” and that “without a book publisher to help offset costs, we are not in the financial position to afford to pay for the usage of every photograph we were hoping to include in the book”.

Continuing, they explained: “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’ and simply ask the photographers themselves whether they wanted to be included in our book or not. Any refusal of permission would be respectfully accepted and no further questions asked”.

They concluded: “Collectively as a band and as individuals, we have often provided our services and our music for no financial compensation in the spirit of artistic collaboration. Obviously we assess every request based on its own individual merits but we would never publicly admonish or begrudge a fellow artist for merely asking”.

Though, of course, if they’d given this explanation in the first place, they might not have been publicly admonished at all.