rights grabs

Before entering a competition, read the terms and conditions

This isn't a new drum that we're beating here today, but we think it's a significantly important issue to warrant another parade: competition rights grabs. Or the attempt by competition organisers to inveigle themselves of the right to use any of the images entered into their photographic competitions, for any purposes, with no compensation to the photographer. This reminder comes as I received a call for entries to a competition run in conjunction with an organisation that I respect and trust, and hoped would be above cheap tactics to help magazines or other companies amass a photo library for free. Apparently not. To quote from the terms and conditions:

By entering your photos in the competition you agree to grant REDACTED and REDACTED a non-exclusive licence to reproduce, publish and feature the photos in association with this competition, or for any other purpose, at any time, in any publication, website or other associated media outlets, without compensation. By entering you agree to grant REDACTED and REDACTED an exclusive royalty-free licence to use the full set of images taken on your photography trip [which comprises the prize] for 12 months.

To use images submitted to contests as promotional material for the competition or its future iterations is a reasonable condition of entry; but to demand they be made available for use in any publication associated with the organisers, for any purposes, across all media, and without compensation is, in my opinion, exploitative.

I have written extensively about the damage that these terms and conditions do to both photographers and the photographic industry before now, so I shan't reprise it here. But do bear in mind that if you're seeking your big break from a competition that employs these sorts of terms, you are doing yourself and fellow photographers—amateur and professional—a disservice in the long run. Furthermore, don't assume that just because the competition is being organised by or run in conjunction with a big name that it won't be out to take advantage of you.

The finale to this performance is then: always check the terms and conditions of a competition and if you consider anything to be unsavoury, please don't enter.

Seeing as I've been asked: no, I shan't be naming the competition in question. I'd rather not bring any more publicity to it. Just read the T&Cs!