Things You Need To Know About Rights-Grab Photo Contests

It seem that contest photo organizers/ sponsors had found a 'cheap and economical way' to 'harvest' a great deal of creative work, usually images for absolutley nothing - a library of FREE images. These are rampant nowadays not just in the Philippines (from private companies to government agencies) but even abroad. A clever ploy targetting photographers especially the amateurs who are naive and do not understand their rights and the potential value of their work. This, in a way, can 'harm' photography in general because when sponsors/ contest organizers get a collection of free images, they are less likely to buy nor hire/commission a photographer to shoot photos for commercial application - somewhere, a photographer loses a sale.

Yet, no matter how clever their mechanics/ contest rules may be, there will always be loopholes and gray areas which you can detect if you examine the contest mechanics very closely. When joining a (photo) contest, please take sometime to read carefully and understand the specific clauses particularly on the following:

Copyright Ownership/ Policy

As authors of original works, photographer entrants should own copyright of their entries, irregardless of winning and non-winning entries. Think twice if you see any of the following clause explicitly expressed in the rules:"All photos submitted as entries to the photo contest shall be owned by ...."; "..... shall retain the copyright of the photographs."; "All entries shall automatically become exclusive property of .... and may be used, copied, reproduced and/or reprinted by.... into any size or medium for exhibition, advertising, promotion or whatever purpose." (see: ownership of copyright & derivative works)

File Submission

Photographer's entries are submitted independently of the digital files or film negatives except in the case of winners, where the sponsors/ organizers may request high resolution file/ digital scans of the winning photographs for verification purposes. Contest organizers has the prerogative in disposing non-winning prints. These maybe returned (via mail by enclosing self-stamped envelope) or destroyed if unclaimed. It is also understood that mere possession of unreturned/ unclaimed entries, both print/ digital files (low resolution) does not transfer authors copyright to the organizer/s (see: transfer or assignment of copyright). Please be warned should you read the clause "Original negatives and data files should be submitted together with the entry" or "All photos submitted as entries to the photo contest shall be owned by ...."

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