Tate Britain boycott ended when organisers allow photographers to attend launch without signing ‘indemnity’ form
Turner prize nominated work from Glasgow-born artist Susan Philipsz. Photograph: Eoghan McTigue / Courtesy the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery/EPA
A row has broken out over media coverage of the launch of this year’sTurner prize, after photographers were today told they could not publish any images or words that could lead to bad publicity for host venue Tate Britain.
Photographers initially boycotted the launch of the Turner prize for modern art at Tate Britain in London earlier today after they were asked to sign a form agreeing they would not publish any material which would “result in any adverse publicity” for the gallery owner.
A two-hour standoff ensued, ending when the Turner prize organisers allowed photographers to attend the launch without signing the form.
“Tate has a standard filming and photography indemnity form which we have been using for at least 10 years,” said a spokesman for the Tate. “Such forms are used widely by arts organistions. Journalists are not required to sign this form, only film crews and photographers. Following discussions with picture desks, we are currently reviewing some of the terms in this form.”
She said that the issue had come to a head recently because Reuters had asked for a review of the now dated stipulations and this had not been sorted out before today’s Turner prize launch event.
The spokeswoman added that the line about “adverse publicity” was a minor point asking journalists to take into account being given access to Tate events, but that it has never been enforced as a prerequisite for entry, and that the real issue raised by Reuters was over licencing rights.
“Reuters is pleased that Tate has agreed to waive its conditions for media entry to the Turner exhibition today, enabling us to cover the event with other news agencies,” said a spokesperson for Reuters. “Reuters is currently in negotiations with Tate over the terms and conditions for future exhibitions, as these are a compromise to our editorial integrity in their current form. Reuters looks forward to further negotiations with Tate on this matter and we will continue our efforts to achieve a satisfactory resolution.”
The current form has a clause which on the face of it says that the Tate retains rights to potentially use images taken by media organisations for its own purposes in the future. The Tate, which is reviewing its media access form in a meeting later today, expects to have a revised form ready by next week.
Standoffs over media rights have become more commonplace in recent years, although the issue more usually relates to the thorny area of digital media rights exploitation.
In August Southampton Football Club attempted to create a picture monopoly by banning photographers from covering home games and forcing all non-broadcast media organisations to negotiate with one outlet of its choosing.
In April news agencies including Reuters, Agence France-Presse and Getty Images said they would boycott the launch of the Cannes film festival in a dispute over restrictions relating to media coverage of the event.
The Guardian, 4 October.