Many of us love to send our best pictures to Photo Contests. Sometimes the prizes are worth it, at other times, we just thrill to get credit. But beware, not all photo contests are good for you — or your pictures.
Most photo contests have submission rules. You should always read them carefully. Most of them are written so that contestants are judged fairly — and cannot sue the judges and participating sponsors. There are also rules on the use of the winning entries by the sponsors. Once you submit your pictures, you are granting the sponsors the rights to display these pictures to promote the contest. Usually, the winning entries can be used by the sponsors for the sole purpose of promoting the contest for a period of a year. The winners also agree that they cannot enter the winning entries into other photo competition during that time. After the year is over, the winners are free to use the winning entries as they see fit. At all times, photographers retain the ownership rights to their entries.
Then, there are the lazy [unethical?] sponsors who simply claim the rights to use your entries for anything they want — for perpetuity.
These are the bad photo contests you want to avoid. Unless you want to outright sell them your photos for the price of the prize, which is what it really amounts to. Still, some rules state that your entries (whether they’ve won a prize or not) now belong to the sponsors.
We admit we’ve been lax on this issue when featuring photo contests on this site, but we’re going to pay more attention and avoid those that are unethical.