We all love photo contests. They are fun, sometimes give out great prizes, and they’re an opportunity to showcase our photographic skills. But how many are aware that just entering a photo contest may mean that you are basically signing away your rights to your own photos to the contest sponsor? And we are not talking about shady sponsors either, but well-respected companies with established brands, that we are pretty sure will never purposefully misappropriate or misuse our photos. Yet, their contest rules belie their altruistic claims.
We have consistently added our voices to the many who have raised concerns about the unreasonable rules on many photo contests — but isn’t it time for a concerted effort on the part of the photography community to have our voices heard? And the way to do that is through education (of your readers as well as of the sponsors).
For example, through constantly raising their readers’ awareness on this issue, Pro-Imaging and Photo Attorney have led the charge and successfully helped reverse contest rules: e.g., Adorama Camera Revises Photo Contest Rules for the Better! While other sites valiantly continue the battle: Your Competition Has Been Reported For Suspected Rights Grabbing! and Pressure on Lowepro to change competition rules won’t abate.
Here are some of the problems we see all too often in contest rules and how they could be fixed:
- By entering the contest you give the sponsor the permission to use your photos in perpetuity.
Fix: Perpetuity is a very long time. Limit the time of use period to one year maximum.
- By entering the contest you give the sponsor the permission to use your photos whether they have won a prize or not.
Fix: Only winning entries can be used. After all, if my entry did not win any prize, why the hell are you using it?
- Sponsor can use your photos for whatever purpose they see fit.
Fix: Winning photos can be used solely for the purpose of contest-related promotion and publicity during the limited time period.
- Sponsor and related companies can use your photos.
Fix: Winning photos can be used solely for the purpose of contest-related promotion and publicity during the limited time period by contest Sponsor only.
For more detail on thiese and other rights issues, see The Bill of Rights for Photography Competitions.
- Read The Fine Print On Photo Contests
- Sigma Takes Extensive License From Moms and CBC Takes Your Copyright
- Pressure on Lowepro to change competition rules won’t abate
- Adorama Camera Revises Photo Contest Rules for the Better!
- More Bad Photo Contests
- “Unload” Your Photos? You May Not Be So Happy!
- The Bill of Rights for Photography Competitions
- The Rights Off List
- Bill of Rights Supporters