Beware of photo contests!

Jan 14, 2011
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St. Louis
stormhighway.com
Beware of photo contests! They are almost always rights-grabs of the worst kind. Every year we see a few of these type of things pop up, some even from otherwise reputable entities. They should ALL be avoided like the plague! Most have terms that grant the contest holder full rights to your image, including the right to sublicense (resell for profit to a third party) and use in any way they choose in any media, forever without credit or payment to you. This means they can legally license your tornado image to say, a major insurance company in a national marketing campaign that has the image in print, billboards, web ads, magazine ads, newspapers, TV commercials, signage, and more! Something like that would net up to five figures to a photographer as a typical license fee. What's worse, rights to ALL of the images entered into the contest are forfeited, even the ones that don't win.

These two articles by Roger Edwards and Chuck Doswell are good reads on this subject:

http://stormeyes.org/wp/2009/08/photo-contests-are-screw-jobs/

http://cadiiitalk.blogspot.com/2013/08/photo-contests-license-to-steal-your.html
 
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Reactions: Kevin Bowman
Mar 15, 2004
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Tucson, Aridzona
www.flickr.com
The local newspaper has a 'best monsoon shot' contest that is just that - a blatant rights grab. They must wind up with thousands of shots, including a fair number of high quality images, all in exchange for providing a brief moment of fame for the hard working chaser / photographer. I've written the editor a few zinging notes, but never hear back or notice any change in the terms of use. I guess it's real easy to not give a when people are literally throwing their hard work at you for free. :(
 
Mar 15, 2004
1,048
53
11
Tucson, Aridzona
www.flickr.com
What he said. My girlfriend just submitted a photo into a contest for Arizona Highways and this made me go look at their fine print. To their credit (if I'm reading it right), they only require one-time publication rights which is refreshing to see.
Az Highways has only gotten worse. Their latest contest 'terms' seems deliberately slippery...

Who are these 'Authorized Parties' and what's going on with that sentence about infringing moral rights?

"By entering the Contest, all entrants grant an irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide non-exclusive license to Authorized Parties, to reproduce, distribute, display and create derivative works of the entries (along with a name credit) in connection with the Contest and promotion of the Contest, in any media now or hereafter known, including, but not limited to: publication in Arizona Highways magazine or online highlighting entries or winners of the Contest; in Arizona Highways’ newsletters; on the Arizona Highways blog, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr; or publication in the form of slides on television. Entrants consent to the Sponsor offering images for free downloads and as computer wallpaper. Entrants consent to the Sponsor doing or omitting to do any act that would otherwise infringe the entrant’s “moral rights” in their entries." (Oh, really?) "Display or publication of any entry on an Authorized Party’s website does not indicate the entrant will be selected as a winner. Authorized Parties will not be required to pay any additional consideration or seek any additional approval in connection with such use. Additionally, by entering, each entrant grants to Authorized Parties the unrestricted right to use all statements made in connection with the Contest, and pictures or likenesses of Contest entrants, or choose not to do so, at their sole discretion. Authorized Parties will not be required to pay any additional consideration or seek any additional approval in connection with such use."
 
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Reactions: Dan Robinson
Jan 14, 2011
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St. Louis
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Unbelievable. The only people who would be OK with that are those completely ignorant of what an image is worth, or those new starry-eyed photographers who still have the delusion that the exposure is going to "get their name out there" and bring them fame and fortune. Slimy exploitation of those who don't know any better.
 
Oct 25, 2004
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Tucson, Arizona
I thank you for the head's up. I had no idea. Something so simple, fun and supposedly harmless as a doggone photo contest.....people have to be on guard. It never ends, does it?