Warning: Gov’t Rights Grab – NPS Photo Contest

Picture: Rain storm clouds at sunrise over the still waters of Emerald Bay State Park, a National Natural Landmark in the South Lake Tahoe region, California

Image: Rain storm clouds at sunrise over the still waters of Emerald Bay State Park, South Lake Tahoe region, California

Ack!! I can’t believe it’s been nearly four weeks since my last post, but I’ve been very busy with a couple assignments and trying to get my book out the door. However, I saw something today that I thought was important enough to raise a flag of caution. It seems the National Park Service, a division of the Department of the Interior, is holding a photo contest to help promote its National Natural Landmarks. I noticed in last year’s winners selection of images a shot taken by someone from my old neighboring hometown of Lafayette of spring poppeis on Mount Diablo. Curiousity, the devilish feline side of me wanted to find out just what kind of rights this contest was asking for. Shocking, but true; if you enter the contest, your entry becomes the property of the NPS to use or sell. What do you get in return? Perhaps a small token prize if you’re in the top three, and (10) copies of the calendar if your image is used. (Hooo-Rah!)

The ‘offending’ terms:

Submission of an entry shall constitute the grant of a non-exclusive, royalty free license to the National Park Service, and its’ sublicensees, to reproduce, display, prepare derivative works, distribute to the public by sale or other transfer, and to utilize the photograph submitted for any governmental purpose, including but not limited to publication on the World Wide Web, interpretive publications, and commercial uses.

So if the National Park Service sells one of your entry images that wasn’t even selected for use for $1,000.00, you’ve just given the government a thousand dollars, and you won’t likely even receive a notice of the use or sale, much less a handshake or a “Thanks you.”

I’m happy to support the National Park Service, primarily through my purchase of an Annual Pass, but I’m not sure I want to just hand them over any of my images on a silver platter.


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6 Comments on “Warning: Gov’t Rights Grab – NPS Photo Contest”

  1. Gary Randall Says:

    I saw that last week.

    After going through all of the BS to get my permits to shoot on public land… I mean “government property”, this is insane. Sadly many people will enter just to get the chance to see their photo in print.

    This is more of an assault by the government on small business and freelancers.

  2. QT Luong Says:

    Typical “grab all rights we can”. Pinterest does not sell images, but in v1 of their TOS, they listed that right.

    The NPS is not in the business of licensing images, but they provide them for free to other parties, which is almost worse. I could see them building a library for their use too, since their own images aren’t generally that great.

  3. Bret Edge Says:

    I also happily support the NPS by purchasing an annual pass at one of my two local parks. However, I’ve noticed similar language in nearly every photo contest sponsored by the NPS, including the contest they hold each year to find a new photo for the aforementioned annual pass. It’s going too far, I think. Sadly, the majority of people who enter these contests couldn’t care less and would just be happy to see their image in print.

  4. Paul Conrad Says:

    Nice catch.

    Also, if the photos become the property of NPS, will they also become public domain?

    “After going through all of the BS to get my permits to shoot on public land… I mean “government property”, this is insane.”

    I agree Gary.

  5. Rob Daggett Says:

    ” non-exclusive ” License. Not becomes property. Having said that I would assume that such a license could be revoked at anytime. I tend to submit photos that I do not intend to sell or already have CC Atrib license. Furthermore I would say the value of exposure one would get from such would far exceed what you would net on the profit of print sales. Guess what if you digimarc that image the viewer can snap a picture with a smartphone and be directed to your website. If your watermarking and not using stenography or digimarc your trusting a watch dog that has no teeth.

  6. Links – April 27, 2012 « Beautiful Flower Pictures Blog: Floral Photography by Patty Hankins Says:

    [...] Images has Warning: Gov’t Rights Grab – NPS Photo Contest and Hey, that’s my picture in your painting! (Derivative [...]



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