Beware another rights-grabbing photo contest

Photographers Beware; There’s another really bad photo contest out there being run by what most would consider a very reputable institution. Courtesy of Photo Competitions, I saw their recent posting advertising an upcoming photo contest being done by the Smithsonian Magazine.

The catch: Just by entering the contest, (as opposed to winning) you’ll be giving away your permission for the Smithsonian to use your image however they want, with no payment to you outside of a “credit line”. And to be clear, this is your name next to the photo, not a line of credit that you can use to buy things at the grocery store or Home Depot.

See for yourself:

By entering the contest, entrants grant Smithsonian Institution a royalty-free, world-wide, perpetual, non-exclusive license to display, distribute, reproduce, and create derivative works of the entries, in whole or in part, in any media now existing or subsequently developed, for any Smithsonian Institution purpose, including, but not limited to advertising and promotion of the magazine and its Web site, exhibition, and commercial products, including but not limited to Smithsonian Institution publications. Photographs may appear on the Smithsonian Journeys Web site as well as in Journeys publications. Any photograph reproduced will include a photographer credit. The Smithsonian Institution will not be required to pay any additional consideration or seek any additional approval in connection with such uses.

Time for an uproar of disapproval, I think. My advice, stay FAR AWAY from this contest.

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8 Comments on “Beware another rights-grabbing photo contest”

  1. Younes Bounhar Says:

    You forgot to mention that you probably even have to pay to give them those rights. As an intellectual property professional, I have to say that the term “perpetual” doesn’t exactly make me happy 🙂

  2. G Dan Mitchell Says:

    Gary: I make a habit of posting the “terms” of these rights-grabs masquerading as “photo contests” at every opportunity. I’ve made myself unpopular with a few groups that I fundamentally support, including the Sierra Club, over this.

    I think that we all need to post every example of this nonsense and do it widely. There is no reason in the world that contest operators need to have terms like this. In fact, I think that many of them are working from more or less legal “boilerplate” and they have no intention of actually using the submitted photos this way – but in that case they really MUST revise the terms.


  3. Another Intellectual Property Rights Grab Masquerading as a “Photo Contest” | G Dan Mitchell Photography Says:

    […] Crabbe has posted a report on a particularly egregious example, but it is only one of many. Read those terms […]

  4. Paul Grecian Says:

    These contests drive me crazy and more and more this is the way it goes. I won’t do it! Thanks for bringing it up.

  5. Ed Says:

    I think this is deflation- as the value of one’s work in many fields of endeavor is going to zero… and that’s what these photo contests are doing, scarfing up lots of great photos for free. Add it to unpaid internships …

  6. Paul Says:

    The cure for this is pretty simple. A subversive individual should register badphotocompetitions dot com and start building a list of corporations running “evil” competitions. could do it more politely. Some of that bad karma needs to be sent back to the accountants driving these things.

  7. John Wall Says:

    I’m glad someone’s pointing these things out. I came across a similarly worded contest just recently — can’t recall where or I’d mention the name. I probably wouldn’t even have checked the rules if I hadn’t been tipped off to look for this kind of thing.

    These guys are right up there with organizations that email to ask about using your photo(s), but never respond if you quote them a price above $0.00.

  8. G Dan Mitchell Says:

    “These guys are right up there with organizations that email to ask about using your photo(s), but never respond if you quote them a price above $0.00.”

    John, these contests are worse – a lot worse. 🙂


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