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Garbage Pen Response to Photographer Claiming They Requested to Use Photo for Free

Shirley Manson
Victor Chavez, Getty Images

Garbage frontwoman Shirley Manson has kind of been on a roll in terms of open letters in 2015.

First, she called out Kanye West for being the one who was “disrespecting artistry” when he ranted against Beck following the Grammys earlier this year. That letter was followed by another, which Manson said was taken out of context and had to clarify that it wasn’t directed toward West.

Now, she’s responded to photographer Pat Pope’s own open letter aimed at the alt-rockers.

It all began when Pope revealed that Garbage requested to use photos he took of the band in the ’90s in an upcoming book that will mark the band’s 20th anniversary. However, Pope claims the band’s management didn’t offer payment for the photos but instead “proper credit,” because the “budget is ‘financially limited,’” due to plans to self-release the book. Pope went on to lay out his contentions (via Facebook):

I’m a firm believer that musicians and artists deserve to be paid for their work. I’ll sign any petition that’s out there supporting that concept, and even when I choose to stream rather than buy, I’m one of the fans of your band that will pay for a premium service because I think you should be paid. That’s my point of view. Is it yours? When you think about artists being paid, does that include photographers? Do you think “content providers”, whatever the hell that means, deserve to be paid for their work, or is that a special category for musicians? If I want to release a music album, can I use your music in it if I give you a “proper credit”?

Garbage responded in a post to their own Facebook today (April 3), writing, “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.” The letter continues:

Our book is not intended as a profit generating venture but something beautiful to create and present directly to our fans as a celebration of our music and the image-makers who we have been lucky enough to work with over the span of a twenty-year career.

We very quickly and painfully learned 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.

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 .

We were so grateful and delighted to learn that most of the photographers were happy for their images to be seen in conjunction with the telling of our story.

We would be entirely unable to produce a book at an affordable price for most of our fans without the generous consent of all these amazingly talented photographers and filmmakers. Historically, artists over the centuries have been known to help each other out in an effort to get their work seen and heard. We are proud and grateful to be part of this artist community.

Over the years we have happily compensated many photographers, filmmakers and other kinds of content providers for their work and will continue to do so in the future. We believe completely in the concept of the artist being compensated fairly whenever possible.

With that said, 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.

Read Garbage’s complete open letter here. Whose side do you fall on? Let us know in the comments section below!

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