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What photographer doesn’t dream of winning a big photo contest? Some contest have great monetary prizes, while others offer great print exposure or trips to far off exotic lands. But at what price?

It is so important to read the full rules and regulations for any and all photo contests because, as they say, the devil is in the details. There are many photo contests that include a clause that upon entering the photo, you grant them full, unlimited rights to not only use the photo for their own use, but also to sell it to other parties. Some even take your copyright.

The latest photo contest to do a rights-grab upon entry is not some no-name outlet, but none other than Vogue magazine.

The key sticking points in the Vogue fashion photo contest include:

[blockquote type=”blockquote_quotes” align=”left”]7. OWNERSHIP AND LICENSE. (a) All entry materials become the property of the Sponsor and will not be acknowledged or returned. The copyright in any Submission shall remain the property of the entrant, but entry into this Promotion constitutes entrant’s irrevocable and perpetual permission and consent, without further compensation, with or without attribution, to use, reproduce, print, publish, transmit, distribute, sell, perform, adapt, enhance, or display such Submission, and the entrant’s name and/or likeness, for any purpose, including but not limited to editorial, advertising, trade, commercial, and publicity purposes by the Sponsor and/or others authorized by the Sponsor, in any and all media now in existence or hereinafter created, throughout the world, for the duration or the copyright in the Submission. Sponsor and/or others authorized by the Sponsor shall have the right to edit, adapt, and modify the Submission.[/blockquote]

That long legalese says that Vogue — and any other companies they authorize! — can use your photos any way they want, for as long as they want, without paying you a penny.

Keep in mind this isn’t just for the photo(s) that win the contest, but applies to all entries into the contest!

What happens is that Vogue magazine, and anyone they authorize (read: sell) the use of your images, just amassed a huge collection of, essentially, royalty free fashion photography for future stock use.

In the past, some well-known travel magazines, including National Geographic Traveller, had these same rules and regulations for their photo contest. In the process, NatGeo created a HUGE collection photography they no longer would have to pay for as they owned the rights to use them without any compensation.

And the kicker for some of these contests, including the NatGeo contests, was that you had to pay an entry fee to participate in the contest. That means YOU were paying THEM to add your photo to their amassed stock archive for them to pull from and use anytime they want … without any compensation to you.

Many photo organizations, including the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), have come together to protest these type of photo contest. ASMP released the following press release:

[styledbox type=”general” align=”center”]ASMP, joined by the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), American Photographic Artists (APA), the Picture Archive Council of America (PACA), Graphic Artists Guild (GAG) and North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA), is concerned about the terms and conditions of a contest announced by Vogue, a Condé Nast publication, entitled the New Exposure Photography Competition, Presented by Bottega Veneta.

This contest, which is targeted at students and emerging photographers, appears to be an effort to secure thousands of free images for unlimited use in publications and in advertising. For this reason, we believe this contest exploits photographers and we strongly caution everyone to carefully review and understand all the terms and conditions along with the rights they are surrendering before entering any competition.

The core problems we see are that:

• The sponsors have the perpetual, unlimited use of all contest entries.

• There is neither compensation for contest participants nor is there credit given for their work.

• Participants are required to sign a liability release and copyright assignment, and to indemnify Botega Veneta and Condé Nast against any lawsuits that may arise as a result of the usage of the photographs.

• Every entrant is required to waive any right to sue in the event of misuse of the photographs entered.

• The winner is being offered $10,000 for a shoot that would normally command several times that amount.

• The winner will be required to grant copyright ownership of all photographs from the shoot.

We believe that while competitions can serve a purpose within your business plan and potentially give your work significant visibility, there are a number of issues to consider before you enter. For more information about the terms, conditions and issues for Photography Competitions, go here.[/styledbox]

Always read the rules and regulations!

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