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Old 02.07.2007, 07:36
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English Contract in Switzerland

Hi all

Have a question for those with contractual knowledge in Switzerland...

Situation: At OpenAir StGallen this last weekend one of the bands from the UK brought out a photographers contract for all the profi-photographers to sign. They were the only band to do this, and actually made a fool of themselves with this contract. Here is why:

1. The contract was in English. The "Landessprache" (local language) is German. Those who understand only a little English were at a total loss here and looked at me for the translation

2. The band offered the sum of 1£ to each photographer to take photos. Well, as you can imagine, there was nobody there to pay us the 1£.

3. We are allowed to use the photos in one publication/website AND only for three months.

First things first:
Well, I suggested that each individual photographer decided for themselves if they should put their traceable name and address in the header or use a false name and address.

Then I asked the concert officials if we could meet with the band management to discuss our payment and conditions of the contract. The answer was, "... if you don't sign, you can't take pictures."

Conclusion:
We took pictures of this snot-nosed band of kids that are not older than 20 years. They didn't do a single thing but stand there and scratch their backsides between songs... also, during the songs they didn't do much more than that. Their music was not much to speak of...

Now my questions:
1. How much weight does an English contract in Switzerland have, when both parties are not English speaking?

2. Does the band and their management have the right to search for and bring those photographers, that publish in more than one location or display the photos for more than three months, to court? (justice and court location in Whales!)

3. Since we did not receive any compensation (1£) according to the contract, their side of the contract was not completed. Does that release the photographers from any responsibility in this situation?

Thanx for your feedback and input. I have a list of 10 other photographers that are all anxious for your replies. We have a lawyer that is taking a look at the contract... I am looking for some experienced answers here... again my thanks!

Bests
Scott
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Old 02.07.2007, 09:07
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Re: English Contract in Switzerland

Hi Scott,

Interesting questions, but to be honest I think they'd be better answered in a photography forum - people there would have much better experience with this type of case.

I would think that two parties are free to enter into a contract, regardless of the language. One side offers conditions, the other accepts. However, if the person signed a contract in a language they clearly didn't understand then it might be possible to argue this, but I don't know. I certainly don't think it is possible to insist (legally) than any contract undertaken between two parties be in the official language of the region where it is signed. The fact that one side sets the court of jurisdiction to a court in another country also shouldn't be a problem, after all, the person signing accepts this. Whether that court has the power to enforce any particular judgement against someone in another country is another matter entirely. The fact that you didn't get your 1 pound would (in my opinion) invalidate the contract.

I think it would be better to focus on the question of what would happen if a photographer refused to sign the contract - what possible rights would the band have in this case to go after you for publishing pictures? They were out in public and you took pictures of them. If they object, they should stay within the confines of their own home. After all, it's not like they invited to do an official photo shoot, like in a studio. They were at a public performance performing anyway.

So I wouldn't take these clowns too seriously, and someone probably should have told them that they had no rights to ask people to sign such a contract, but like I said - you'd be better of checking on a forum where they deal with this kind of question all the time.
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Old 02.07.2007, 10:15
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Re: English Contract in Switzerland

Very typical music photography contract. You might want to ask your question at the Music Photographers Yahoo group. These people are the experts in these types of contracts!
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Old 02.07.2007, 11:57
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Re: English Contract in Switzerland

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We took pictures of this snot-nosed band of kids that are not older than 20 years. They didn't do a single thing but stand there and scratch their backsides between songs... also, during the songs they didn't do much more than that. Their music was not much to speak of
I wonder who they were then??? pretty obvious by your description although I personally really enjoyed their music
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Old 02.07.2007, 12:10
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Re: English Contract in Switzerland

They got lucky, Oasis got bottled out of stage at Nyon for doing just that
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Old 02.07.2007, 16:46
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Re: English Contract in Switzerland

@Mark;
Actually, this has been brought up in a Forum in the past. Results were that the photographer has the right to his/her own photos and the artist has the right to their face. So, basically, when entering such a contract, it is a matter of respect for the other party. However, IMO, when one party neglects the conditions (especially set by themselves) the contract is null and void. These kids and their manager has their egos and their nose too high, they will be brought back to earth sometime or another!

@evilshell;
Thanks, will do just that.

@Nicky;
Oh? Do you know who the group is? You were in StGallen too? Damn, sorry I missed you... out of the 30,000+ people there yesterday The final closing band "Snow Patrol" was killer - awesome - too good, stayed in the streaming rain to watch/listen to them before my foot march to Breitfeld.

@ExoticLatic;
The OASG Media Management basically handed out and accepted the signed forms while shrugging their shoulders and said, this is the last time this group will play here.

Thanks for your feedback. Will let you know if anything comes of it. My photos will stay online for as long as my *ahem* server stays online.

Bests to all, stay dry!
Scott
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Old 02.07.2007, 17:11
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Re: English Contract in Switzerland

Quote:
@Nicky;
Oh? Do you know who the group is? You were in StGallen too? Damn, sorry I missed you... out of the 30,000+ people there yesterday The final closing band "Snow Patrol" was killer - awesome - too good, stayed in the streaming rain to watch/listen to them before my foot march to Breitfeld.
Yep Scott sounds like it was probably the Arctic Monkeys on just before Snow Patrol? and I agree Snow Patrol as always were pretty good even in the rain!
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Old 02.07.2007, 19:32
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Re: English Contract in Switzerland

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Actually, this has been brought up in a Forum in the past. Results were that the photographer has the right to his/her own photos and the artist has the right to their face.
How does the artist have a right to their face? If you photographed them walking down the street you would have all rights to the image and they would have zero rights to it (just as any person doesn't have rights to images of themselves taken by others if they go in public).

Do different rules apply because you are given a special pass to get close to the stage? Is there some sort of 3 way agreement signed between the photographer and the organiser, and the artist and the organiser, which somehow allows the artist to exercise additional rights as to the use of pictures of themselves? Because without some kind of additional contractual framework, I can't see how the artist could assert rights over how their face is used.

Of course if they paid you to come to their studio and photograph them then that would be a totally different story, but they are out in the open. What's to stop me getting a front row seat and also taking a picture? How could the artist asset any such "rights" over their face with an image I had taken?
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Old 03.07.2007, 07:22
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Re: English Contract in Switzerland

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How does the artist have a right to their face? If you photographed them walking down the street you would have all rights to the image and they would have zero rights to it (just as any person doesn't have rights to images of themselves taken by others if they go in public).

Do different rules apply because you are given a special pass to get close to the stage? Is there some sort of 3 way agreement signed between the photographer and the organiser, and the artist and the organiser, which somehow allows the artist to exercise additional rights as to the use of pictures of themselves? Because without some kind of additional contractual framework, I can't see how the artist could assert rights over how their face is used.

Of course if they paid you to come to their studio and photograph them then that would be a totally different story, but they are out in the open. What's to stop me getting a front row seat and also taking a picture? How could the artist asset any such "rights" over their face with an image I had taken?
Yes, a public figure does have the right to determine how their figure will be used for commerce in public. They do have this right.

Again yes, there are special conditions for media photographers. I mean every Tom, Dick and Harry can photograph from a few meters from the stage with their handycam or digicam. I mean with the quality produced today in the compact camera market, these photos could come close to our quality... and these photos & videos are published every day in diverse websites and You-Tube such websites. We know this is a problem, and it is one that the professional organizations are currently dealing with the legalities.

And yet again you are right Mark, photos taken in a public place are (with 99% of the population) free for use. I came close to ending up in a hospital when a group of homeless about tossed me down a flight a stairs because I took a photo of a downtown street in St. Gallen where one of their fellow homeless was drunk (and unrecognizable) on the street. I mean, a wide-angle shot without intention of pinpointing anybody. Close call!

If an artist contracted me to photograph in Studio (mine or theirs) then the photos are private. That goes the same for a private event or location. Then it is clear and the compensation is on a different level.

Bests
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Old 03.07.2007, 07:24
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Re: English Contract in Switzerland

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Yep Scott sounds like it was probably the Arctic Monkeys on just before Snow Patrol? and I agree Snow Patrol as always were pretty good even in the rain!
Hmmmmmm, I didn't mention any names here.... and I won't say that YOU ARE RIGHT.
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Old 06.07.2007, 17:15
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Re: English Contract in Switzerland

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Hi all

Have a question for those with contractual knowledge in Switzerland...

Situation: At OpenAir StGallen this last weekend one of the bands from the UK brought out a photographers contract for all the profi-photographers to sign. They were the only band to do this, and actually made a fool of themselves with this contract. Here is why:

1. The contract was in English. The "Landessprache" (local language) is German. Those who understand only a little English were at a total loss here and looked at me for the translation

2. The band offered the sum of 1£ to each photographer to take photos. Well, as you can imagine, there was nobody there to pay us the 1£.

3. We are allowed to use the photos in one publication/website AND only for three months.

First things first:
Well, I suggested that each individual photographer decided for themselves if they should put their traceable name and address in the header or use a false name and address.

Then I asked the concert officials if we could meet with the band management to discuss our payment and conditions of the contract. The answer was, "... if you don't sign, you can't take pictures."

Conclusion:
We took pictures of this snot-nosed band of kids that are not older than 20 years. They didn't do a single thing but stand there and scratch their backsides between songs... also, during the songs they didn't do much more than that. Their music was not much to speak of...

Now my questions:
1. How much weight does an English contract in Switzerland have, when both parties are not English speaking?

2. Does the band and their management have the right to search for and bring those photographers, that publish in more than one location or display the photos for more than three months, to court? (justice and court location in Whales!)

3. Since we did not receive any compensation (1£) according to the contract, their side of the contract was not completed. Does that release the photographers from any responsibility in this situation?

Thanx for your feedback and input. I have a list of 10 other photographers that are all anxious for your replies. We have a lawyer that is taking a look at the contract... I am looking for some experienced answers here... again my thanks!

Bests
Scott
Hi Scott here the answers to your questions...

1. Full, language is irrespective if both sides agree to the content and this can be reasonably translated through an official translation bureau to let the court decide.
2. Yes they indeed do, and also see 1 here. English is one of the official languages in Wales and therefore the contract would be fully valid. Any attempt to recompense in Switzerland would generally result in a no jurisdiction dismissal.
3. Yes. A contract is only valid as long as both sides uphold their responsibilities as stated in the contract. If this is not the case then there has been a breach of contract. This might not however free you of certain responsibilities or commitments. In this case no court would take this seriously as indeed they did not.

Okay?

Richard
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Old 06.07.2007, 17:46
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Re: English Contract in Switzerland

From my M&A experience, as Richard states above the contracts are valid even in Catspeak, so long as both parties agree to them. Send an email to the management and tell them the contract isn't valid as they didn't fulfill their obligations. It's polite at least to cover yourself before profiting from their image (if it's Branded / Copyrighted).

Anyhoo, I wouldn't worry too much, those Northern Apes have had their day already. The drummer's the only good one, if only he'd leave and do his own thing. A better singer, too.
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Old 06.07.2007, 18:14
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Re: English Contract in Switzerland

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Hi Scott here the answers to your questions...
1. Full, language is irrespective if both sides agree to the content and this can be reasonably translated through an official translation bureau to let the court decide.Richard
i have been told that only contrast in (one of the swiss languages) is valid in court. from lawyers, the tenant association and just about everyone i have ever signed a contract with.

i would assume you are correct richard as a translation of the contract can be submitted to a court. however i have been told this is not possible.

also i am confused as verbal contracts are still recognizable, but what if that verbal contract is in a foreign language?
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Old 06.07.2007, 19:39
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Re: English Contract in Switzerland

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i have been told that only contrast in (one of the swiss languages) is valid in court. from lawyers, the tenant association and just about everyone i have ever signed a contract with.
Well then I will tell you that a contract in English or Spanish, or... even in a Swiss court is as valid as a German one - believe me I have negotiated enough and in the SFr. 10s of millions ie no risks taken...
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