Beware of thieves
We recently entered a photo competition that had caught Mrs C’s eye in one of the local cakes-n-facials magazines. The photo below, in fact.
Send us a kawaii picture of your pet, it said. Knowing with absolute authority that our Milk is the kawaiiest on block, we sent off an email.
Anyway, today, long after we’d both forgotten about it, we received an email, both confusing and infuriating.
Confusing, because although it started with phrases of congratulations, it was clear that we’d won nothing except to have the photo displayed on a wall along with all the other entrants to the competition.
Infuriating, because it later stated that photos would be displayed with only the name of the pet, while the name and locale of the photographer would be withheld “for your own privacy”. Uh-huh. Then with barely a pause, it went on to say that by entering the competition, you sign over ‘all rights concerning copyright and future usage in perpetuity’ to the company running the competition.
I don’t bloody think so.
So we sent a quick email to the effect that in view of the competition holders revealing themselves as thieving bastards, we reject their conditions and withdraw from the competition. They did at least get back to us almost instantly, accepting our requests.
Doing some research into this topic, I discovered this type of thing, far from being unusual, is actually pretty much the norm. “Rights grab” is a phrase you might be interested to google. Companies run photo competitions and include terms and conditions that amount to theft, and from it end up with a huge stock of quality photos that has cost them not a penny. They can then go on to do with them, and earn from them, what they wish.
Some of them even ban professional photographers, presumably because they’re more likely to be aware of their rights, and make a fuss about it.
So if you’re thinking of entering a photo competition, check the small print closely. If the holders intend to steal your rights, I urge you not to enter. Now you may think, “But I’m not going to make any money out of this picture.” You may or may not. But if you sign over the copyright, you definitely won’t, and they very probably will.
And more to the point, if you ever sign over your rights to such a company, you will allow them to perpetuate this attitude that it’s alright to trawl for enormous libraries of ‘free’ photographs, figuring that payment to photographers is a mere obstacle to be got around.
So I exercise the right to flaunt the above photo. Because despite its monetary value to me, which is negligable, that right is mine. And always will be.