Update: On 2012 September 21 OttawaJazzScene.ca publisher and photojournalist Brett Delmage reached a final settlement with the Ottawa Jazz Festival regarding the appearance of his copyrighted photos without attribution and/or permission in festival publications and on Facebook. The settlement does not constitute an admission of any liability or obligation by the Ottawa Jazz Festival.
OttawaJazzScene.ca will not be photographing or reviewing concerts at the 2012 TD Ottawa Jazz Festival. In fulfilling our ongoing commitment to transparency, I wanted to let our readers and supporters know why we cannot do so.
More than one year ago, in May 2011, I formally requested that the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival pay me for my photographic work which they had used during three prior years. The Festival responded by immediately denying news media access (formal accreditation) to all OttawaJazzScene.ca journalists including myself. One year after my request to be paid, and three years after their first unauthorized use of my photos, I have still not been compensated for their use of my copyrighted work. Read the previous announcement.
This spring, the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival formally offered to give me permission to photograph the 2012 Ottawa Jazz Festival only if I accepted $1500 less in payment for my work.
In other words, the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival asked that I pay $1500 to them, an organization with a $3 Million annual budget and an 2011 operating profit of $162,419 (2009:$159,352; 2008:$270,363), so that I, would be permitted to photograph their festival for OttawaJazzScene.ca this year.
I don't know about you - but I do not have $1500 burning a hole in my pocket or bank account, nor does OttawaJazzScene.ca. And I need to be paid in full for my work for the same reasons you do: to buy groceries and pay my taxes. My recent camera repair bill alone was more than $1000.
As members of the Canadian Association of Journalists, OttawaJazzScene.ca's editor and I are committed to high standards of reporting. That includes not paying our sources, including the Ottawa Jazz Festival and others, for news or access. Such payments conflict with journalists' independence and harm the reliability, trustworthiness and perceived fairness of what is reported or reviewed. It's not done.
OttawaJazzScene.ca's editorial team members, including our student interns, are expected to uphold professional standards, whether they are interviewing, writing, reviewing, or photographing. They are expected to avoid conflicts of interest and not work for those they report about or whose performances they review. Conversely, we expect only to be given the required access we need to do our work as jazz reporters and critics - if any reporting at an event or in the performance space controlled by an organization is to take place. We have had that very ordinary, professional relationship with many musicians and event organizers, the National Arts Centre, The National Gallery of Canada, Carleton University, University of Ottawa, The Guelph Jazz Festival, Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, and others without request for a payment.
It is therefore unfortunate that the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival has asked me to pay them, so that I could get access as a photojournalist and so that OttawaJazzScene.ca could publish photographs about their festival, to be seen by existing listeners and potential listeners, the general public that supports the Festival through government grants, and potential tourists from beyond the national capital.
We exist to serve the jazz audience. Since TD Ottawa Jazz Festival denied us access to the 2011 festival and would not respond to interview or information requests or questions since then, we have tried nonetheless to continue our coverage in service of our audience. In 2011 we:
- reported on the performances of some of the top, young, and popular local jazz musicians performing at the Rideau Centre Stage [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
- comprehensively and independently surveyed and reported the opinions of jazz listeners about the local jazz scene, including the festival's controversial musical changes in 2011
- reviewed concerts at the first Ottawa Winter Jazzfest (for which we purchased our own tickets to gain access)
- published news stories about the festival, including about the new festival compilation CD of local artists, and the NCC removing its funding to the festival in 2012
On June 6, OttawaJazzScene.ca's application to cover the 2012 Ottawa Jazz Festival (news media accreditation) was denied in writing.
Unfortunately, the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival's denial of media accreditation to OttawaJazzScene.ca reporters for a second year most hurts the jazz listeners, and the Ottawa-Gatineau jazz musicians and other Canadian jazz musicians whom we have consistently reported on since our founding.
As I have done every year for many years, I have purchased a gold pass (which I normally use to attend concerts that I am not reporting/working on). So, I will still attend the festival as a listener, as will the other keen jazz fans of the OttawaJazzScene.ca editorial team, who also have their own listener passes. We don't use media accreditation to get free access to listen to music; we need it so we can do our jobs as reporters and reviewers.
This whole situation has been personally troubling for me. I deeply regret that OttawaJazzScene.ca will not be able to bring you, our valued audience, further reviews or photos from the 2012 TD Ottawa Jazz Festival, in light of the current situation. Thanks for reading this and for your understanding and ongoing interest and enthusiasm for our work all year long. It keeps us going.
journalist and publisher