Palin photographer breached contract with sale to Newsweek

What on earth was Sarah Palin thinking when she posed in a pair of teeny-tiny gym shorts for a photograph that ended up on the cover of Newsweek -- a cover she has called "sexist"? Perhaps she was thinking that her image would only appear in the magazine she was posing for, Runner's World, and nowhere else, at least not for months and months. If so, she had good reason -- since, as DailyFinance has learned, the photographer who shot the picture violated his contract by reselling them to Newsweek.

That photographer, Brian Adams, could not immediately be reached, and his agent, Kelly Price, declined to comment, saying, "I keep all of my clients' business private." But a spokeswoman for Runner's World confirms that Adams's contract contained a clause stipulating that his photos of Palin would be under embargo for a period of one year following publication -- meaning until August 2010. "Runner's World did not provide Newsweek with its cover image," the spokeswoman said. "It was provided to Newsweek by the photographer's stock agency, without Runner's World's knowledge or permission." The spokeswoman declined to say whether Runner's World intends to respond to Adams's breach of contract with legal action.
But while Newsweek's use of the photo violated the embargo, it's not clear to what extent Adams is at fault. A source with knowledge of the situation says multiple outlets, including Time, approached Runner's World after the photos first appeared on its website in July to inquire about obtaining the reuse rights. Those who inquired were forwarded to Adams. Editors at the magazine were aware of negotiations to resell the pictures, and were primarily concerned to see that Runner's World received prominent credit, says the source. In the event, Newsweek credited Runner's World right on its cover. Another source says there is some disagreement over whether the exclusivity clause in Adams's contract is meant to cover all magazines or only titles that compete with Runner's World. Meanwhile, a post on Adams's blog seems to suggest he didn't know about the resale to Newsweek until after Price concluded it.
Do you think the Newsweek cover photo of Sarah Palin is sexist?
Yes71052 (44.9%)
No87321 (55.1%)


That leaves the questions of whether anyone at Newsweek knew that Adams was not contractually free to sell the photo, and whether the promised embargo was a factor in Palin's decision to pose for Runner's World. Spokespersons for Palin and Newsweek have not yet responded to inquiries from DailyFinance. Update: A Newsweek spokesman says, "We purchased the photo from an agency and were not aware of any issues with it."

As for whether the Newsweek cover is, as Palin says, sexist, editor Jon Meacham addressed that accusation Tuesday: "We chose the most interesting image available to us to illustrate the theme of the cover, which is what we always try to do," Meacham said. "We apply the same test to photographs of any public figure, male or female: does the image convey what we are saying? That is a gender-neutral standard."

This story was updated on Wednesday, Nov. 18, with additional information about Brian Adams's contract with Runner's World and his role in the sale of his photo to Newsweek.

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