Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How The Rights To Your Photo Are Being Hijacked Through Photo Contests & Social Media

How The Rights To Your Photo Are Being Hijacked Through Photo Contests & Social Media


So you've got this incredible image that you've got to show the world. Not only are you going to share it with your friends online, but you're also going to enter it in a contest or two to win some fabulous prizes. Well before you do I recommend reading the fine print, that includes the the Terms of Use (ToU) for web sites and Contest Rules for, you guessed it, photo contests.

One of the most underhanded tactics sweeping the online and publishing world is the hijacking of photo rights through inequitable terms buried in the fine print of legalese for contests and web sites. The perpetrators will no doubt surprise you, they include the likes of Facebook, National Geographic + PDN, Popular Photo, and more.

This issue is not a new one and has reared its ugly head in the past on other photo sharing sites, but now this tactic is becoming increasingly common with major players. Offending words such as perpetual, royalty-free license and irrevocable are being introduced to hijack the rights to photographs of well intended photographers looking to play the odds to have their work recognized in a contest or just to simply share with friends.

So what does this mean? It means companies, that used to pay for quality photography to fill the pages of their publications, are now taking advantage of well intentioned photographers to develop royalty-free photo libraries they now can tap to fill the pages of their publication or place in promotional advertisements.

I almost forgot about this underhanded tactic until I started to play with the idea of submitting to the Popular Photography contest "Are You the Next Great Photographer?" sponsored by Apple. In talking with a friend and fellow photographer Richard Wong it was noted the terms outlined in Popular Photography's Terms of Use were not photographer friendly.