Cameras at gigs: Are rights holders relaxing?

Go to any gig, and you’ll see millions of tiny glowing screens, mostly capturing rubbish photos, along with a few more serious cameras — if they’re allowed.
Over the weekend, I went out to what’s currently called Allphones Arena to see some professional wrestling, courtesy of WWE. In the interests of full disclosure, WWE provided me a ticket to attend, as I’d also interviewed WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan earlier in the day.
That interview will go up when I have the chance to transcribe it, but beforehand the interview I signed a release document relating to photographic rights and risks. It was very much a standard document that they clearly use worldwide — and the very first time I’ve ever signed something relating to my risk of death prior to an interview — because they’re notably protective of their brand and the visual impressions that it gives off. It’s their brand, and that’s their right. That usually relates to the permission — or prohibition — of photography at events as well.
Except in this case it mostly didn’t. Allphones arena wouldn’t let any detachable lens camera into the arena, although I’m not sure they were checking all that heavily.

That's a big lens on that Nikon camera there.
That’s a big lens on that Nikon camera there.

The official announcement prior to the event stated, however, that you were free to take pictures for your own personal enjoyment, but not video of any kind — and that if you were caught, you’d risk being ejected from the venue. Again, that’s their right and privilege as long as it’s made clear upfront. I wonder if you could argue for a refund if you left right then?
That’s a marked softening of position, though, based on previous events, and it’s one that seems to be taking inexorable hold, as there’s the realisation that just about everyone has a camera of some sort lurking in their pockets at all times. I’ve been to music gigs with the same kinds of loose restrictions, and even ones where the smartphone’s replaced the lighter as the “hold up and sway” item of choice for the band to call out.
It’s still an IDIOTIC thing to spend the entire event staring at your tiny 5″ screen rather than the artist in front of you, by the way.

You’re still going to get a generally lousy pic out most smartphones if you’re being jostled from side to side by rowdy and semi-drunk fans from the 97th row; for what it’s worth I took my shots with a Samsung Galaxy Camera, not because I love long Android startup times, but simply due to the 21x non-removable zoom lens. A few years back, I’ve no doubt I would have been pounced upon simply for having such a device on me, as had happened to me a few years previously. As it was, I could get a few passable shots, because I’m keen on photography but I’ve still got a whole heaping load of learning to do, and then get back to enjoying the event.
*I’ve noted this before, but if you just came in; I rather enjoy the theatrics and staged nature of professional wrestling. No particular love for MMA or boxing, though, because that’s meant to hurt people. Save your jibes, I’ve heard them all before.

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