|Photo contests are becoming more creative every year and it’s not just contests anymore! Once again, they all “sound” so enticing.
IMPORTANT NOTE: And now, there’s a new venue. Watch out for blogs offering to post your articles and photos on their blog sites. They too are doing the same thing – you agree to them utilizing your text and photos anywhere, anytime and for as long as they like! For all you know, they could be selling your work! Be sure to read their terms and conditions!
The first thing I always do is go directly to the “Terms” of a contest in hopes this time, this contestwill be one that protects the photographer and the copyrights to their photo/s. NOPE! After reading the terms, I found this one even more blatant than most and I have to admit, it raised my blood pressure!
Why? They are using the submissions to the contest for publishing a book and for all you know, many books. How do I know, they tell you so!
Let’s take a look at some of the words they and others use: “… to copy, reproduce, transmit, create derivative works, post, reuse, display and distribute without limitations… in any media now or hereafterknown, but not limited to…”. Then they actually tell you the name of the book in which your photos will be used and also go on to say, “… publication of a book showing chosen entries…”, which leaves the door open for them to use your photos in who-knows-how-many future books.
WATCH OUT–THEY CAN USE YOUR PHOTO ANYWHERE, AT ANY TIME AND IN ANY WAY THEY WANT!
SAY WHAT? You’re going to take my submitted photo from the contest, put it in a book and make a profit from it? What about me?
First: You have the “privilege of paying” the individual/s (not necessarily a sponsor in the sense of a company supporting the contest–could be an individual calling themselves a Sponsor) to enter thisonce-in-a-lifetime photography project/contest!
Second: After you pay them to “accept” your photo/s submission/s, you get to sign away all of your rights to your photo/s and they get to publish a book and make a profit! Oh yes, what do you get? You get a minor prize and get to see your picture in a book! Do you receive any royalties or even a flat fee for the use of your photo/s–NO, remember YOU PAID THEM a contest fee and you signed away or entered the contest with the understanding that there would be no compensation! What an honor–what a privilege!
Here’s where to look:
Check under headings, such as Awards, License, Usage, Copyrights, etc.–they will all vary to some degree. They may want you to sign away your rights or it may be stated that by merely entering the contest, you are giving up your rights to your photo so they can use them as they see fit. This is not just geared towards the winners, but it will include ALL SUBMISSIONS.
I strongly urge you to read all contest terms, rules and regulations. You may not be a professional photographer who routinely sells the rights to use their images, but your images do have value. That should be respected by you and those who think enough of your images to want to use them and/or publish them.
A Side Note Here:
There is another twist to the equation. I’m not exactly certain how this works, but many of the new cameras and camera phones come with a GPS function that will imprint where you took the image by the GPS coordinates. When you allow your images to be used anywhere and in anyway, think about the information you are making available. With nature photography it isn’t particularly important, but think about a photograph of your home or a portrait of a young child. Do you really want that GPS information to be available to any possible unsavory characters? And it can be spread around the world to who knows where? Check to see if your camera or cell phone has this capability and if and how it can be removed. Watch this video and be careful out there.
From the Original May 2010 Article–Learn More
Note: I have seen some contests on occasion that don’t appear to be “fishing for photos”, so pay close attention. There are good ones out there—be patient and they’ll come along. But don’t assume because a prestigious company name is attached to the contest, that all is O.K.
© 2010 Noella Ballenger
I CAN WIN!
I KNOW I CAN!
MY PHOTO IS EXCEPTIONAL!
THE PRIZE IS MINE!
And that is exactly for what companies are hoping—that you’ll send in your very best photo, that exceptional image you captured just for their contest—for them!
The fishing line has been thrown out, the hook is baited and right in front of your face dangles THE PRIZE!
But is it really such a great prize for you or is the greatest prize for the company? Why would they need you to agree to all of those legally written rules and regulations about the use of your photo/s? Why would they need to use those photos in the future anyway? Could it be for their potential financial gain?
Let’s look at what is behind many of these contests…….why there are so many of them. How do they work? Let’s understand more about what all the legal jargon means and let’s review some of the wording in their rules and/or terms & conditions.
Recently I have been getting a flood of e-mails about new photo contests. There is something very enticing and attractive about entering one of your images and receiving “international acclaim”, or the chance to be exhibited in a major show, or the opportunity to have millions of people looking at your work on a website or in a publication, or at the very least the chance to win that BIG $$$ first prize or the new camera equipment. It is truly an exciting opportunity—isn’t it?
First, let’s look at what you have that the promotional company wants or may want.
Note: Be aware that the company promoting a contest can be different from a company which sponsors a contest (gives their products away). The sponsor may not even be aware of the contest rules and regulations. Understandably, their goal is to have their products seen by as many people as possible and then sell those products.
When you take a photograph, a copyright is created and you own that copyright. A copyright is the legal recognition that this is your property and it has value. Perhaps its value is only to you and your family as a key to special memories. Perhaps its value is wrapped up in a historical or natural occasion that is special to others. Perhaps it is a one-of-a-kind photograph worthy of news, but regardless of what it is, there is value and that value is legally protected by your copyright and you have the ability to control and sell the usage of that image to others, should you so choose to do so.
We have now established that your image has some kind of value, so let’s take some time to read the contest’s rules for submission.
DO WHAT? READ WHAT?
Usually these “Official Rules” or “Terms & Conditions” are listed in fine print and are typically located in an out-of-the-way area on the website where it isn’t obvious to the casual viewer. What the contest folks are “banking on” is that the majority of people WILL NOT hunt for them, let alone read them….and they would be correct in that. It takes a bit of time and incentive to read through all of the clauses and conditions attached with the submission of an image. And maybe there is a little box to click on—by doing that you have agreed to all of these rules, even though you probably didn’t even read them. Besides, who cares, it’s a chance to win!
But you just might care, so let’s now look at some phrases, usages and words to help you sort out what they are asking you to do.
These words and phrases should put up
really large caution flags in your mind!
Remember, your entry in the contest represents a contract with the promotional organization and that contract may be difficult and possibly impossible to break once you commit to it by sending in your entry.