Newspaper sends artist to Foo Fighters concert to protest photo contract

An illustration of Foo Fighters by artist Francis Desharnais. Francis Desharnais / via Le Soleil

MONTREAL — The Foo Fighters are a good draw. Just ask a Quebec City newspaper.

Le Soleil sent artist Francis Desharnais to sketch the band at its Festival d’été de Québec outdoor concert because the newspaper refused to sign a restrictive contract for photographers.

The one-page agreement gives Foo Fighters’ management the right to approve photos and gives the band ownership of images. It also gives Foo Fighters “the right to exploit all or a part of the Photos in any and all media, now known or hereafter devised, throughout the universe, in perpetuity, in all configurations” without compensating the photographer.

“Restrictions on photographers are commonplace [but] the contract imposed by the Foo Fighters is among the most strict,” Le Soleil explained.

The newspaper’s photographer, Jean-Marie Villeneuve, circumvented the agreement by finding a spot at the Plains of Abraham site outside the media enclosure.

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Still, Le Soleil posted two sketches of the band by Desharnais.

Francis Desharnais / via Le Soleil

(Mother Nature apparently didn’t like the terms of the photographers’ contract, either. The Foo Fighters were forced to cancel the show after only four songs due to torrential rain and lightning.)

Earlier this month, Washington City Paper declined to send a photographer to a Foo Fighters concert and instead invited fans to send pictures.

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Last week, five newspapers — including the Montreal Gazette and Le Journal de Montreal — refused to send photographers to a Taylor Swift concert at the Bell Centre due to her similarly restrictive contract.

Among the conditions the Gazette took issue with is one giving Swift’s management the right to “confiscate and/or destroy the technology or devices that contain the master files of the Photographs … and eject you from the venue” without being liable for “losses, injury (and) damage.”

The Gazette explained it does “not give anyone permission to injure its photographers or damage their equipment.”

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