Hudson Yards’ Rights Theft
This post was originally written by Thomas Maddrey in his role as General Counsel for the American Society of Media Photographers, a seventy-five-year-old organization dedicated to the craft and profession of photography. Thomas’ work with ASMP reflects his history as a photographer himself, as well as the type of advocation for artist’s rights that Maddrey PLLC is known for. Originally posted at www.asmp.org on March 19, 2019.
In what has become an all too common occurrence, a new installation called the “Vessel” at Hudson Yards in New York has
implemented draconian language to perform a complete “rights grab” for all photographers, professional and amateur alike. ASMP denounces this and similar attempts to deprive creators of their ability to control their content.
Buried in the Terms and Conditions of visiting Hudson Yards, you agree that if you “appear in, create, upload, post, or send any photographs, audio recording, or video footage depicting or relating to the Vessel, I grant to the Company the unrestricted, worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual right and license … for the purpose of … advertising,” among other blanket terms. Further, if you post any images or content “depicting or relating to the Vessel,” you allow them to modify, publish, and distribute for any purpose your work. That is flatly unacceptable.
ASMP has always stood for the rights of all photographers to be treated with fairness, and terms like these make a mockery of that ideal. The net effect of the terms and conditions above is to grant the most expansive license possible short of simply transferring the copyright. Needless to say, an attraction like this in NYC means that Hudson Yards need never spend a dollar on advertising or content creation; they have every visitor to do it for them for free.
Our members and the public at large have seen the inequity of this rights grab. In a short period of time an uproar has trembled through both industry and national media. In response, Hudson Yards claimed that they were simply retaining the right to “amplify and re-share photos already shared in individual social channels through our website and social channels.” They went on to say that this is the same policy used at “nearly all major attractions.” But their own terms contradict that spin. There were no limitation on the rights they sought, and no caveats to lessen the ubiquity of those conditions.
Hudson Yards has told media outlets that they are “refining the language to be more clear.” ASMP lends its voice to others in the industry and urges Hudson Yards to not simply refine, but rebuild, from the ground up, the policies that govern licenses granted to them by these rules.