National Geographic 2012 Student Photography Contest

National Geographic is sponsoring a Student Photo Contest. Submit your photo for a chance to win a space on their London Photography Workshop this summer. Your photo must capture “the spirit of exploration.” As student photo contests are wont to do, you also need to write a short description (100 words or less) of the “moment” captured and how it reflects what exploration means to you. Then comes the social marketing side: you must also share your photo submissions with family and friends.

Pay special attention to the post processing allowed on the photos in the contest rules.

Here are the relevant copyrights info:


Each entrant retains the copyright to his/her Photograph(s) and Description(s), but explicitly grants Sponsor, its licensees, affiliates and their designees (collectively, the “Authorized Parties”) an irrevocable, nonexclusive license for the duration of copyright to use each Photograph and Description for advertising, marketing, and promotional purposes, in any and all media now known or hereafter created, including but not limited to publication in catalogs, brochures, blogs, and websites, at Authorized Parties’ discretion, without additional consideration, notification, permission to entrant or any third party.

We are very surprised at the wording of the license. As it is written, it seems to us to amount to a rights grab: National Geographic reserves to itself (and any other company it chooses to license your photos to) the right to use your photos (and not just the winning entries) as it chooses fit, forever, without your permission or payment.

It’s probably a “lazy” rule that so many other contests put out. What the License should be rewritten to state is that NG can use your photos for the express purpose of promoting the Student Photo Contest and for a maximum period of 1 year.

Caveat: Contest is open only to legal residents of the United States who are in 9th through 12th grades at the time of entry. See full contest rules.

So, two very disturbing issues with the contest: 1- a license that amounts to a rights grab, and 2- opened only to US. Has NG of all organizations forgotten that we live in an interconnected world today?