Idaho Statesman & Idaho Camera Photo Contest: read the fine print (of any contest)

Just a real quick post: Saw a note a few minutes ago about a photo contest being run by the Idaho Statesman in cooperation with Idaho Camera. First, both of these companies are reputable and I’d have no problem doing business with them in most cases. I don’t usually do photo contests, but since I run a “Outdoor Idaho Photography” group on flickr I clicked the link to check it out for a possible announcement on our forum. And right there in plain sight is the reason I don’t do photo contest and why you should ALWAYS read the rules.

“Photographs and Articles submitted to the Idaho Statesmen and Idaho Camera shall become the property of Idaho Statesmen and Idaho Camera and may be reproduced and distributed in print, electronic, or other form for perpetuity.” source

If that doesn’t give you chills, you don’t value your work enough. For what it’s worth, that’s essentially all of the fine print, there is no link or reference to a “complete set of rules” or such. I realize that publications have to have a copyright release as part of their submission guidelines so they can print your photo in the paper or display it as a winner on their website. Some contests handle this gracefully, and I’ll participate. But many, if not most, grant themselves the right to sell prints and some, as in this case, claim to own the work. Perhaps, just perhaps, that’s not what they intended but rarely do court cases revolve on intent instead of what was written in the contract.

There are plenty of resources on the internet regarding photo contest and what to look for in the fine print of your local contests. It’s accepted they won’t send you back the print you sent in, and there will be language to that effect, that’s standard. You should expect to see language saying that you the photographer grant the company license or permission to print the photo as part of the photo contest. Read closely and be sure you can live with the “license” or “permission” you are granting. Stay far away from “own,” “become property,” “exclusive” and “perpetuity.” Always make that there is wording to the effect of: “the original photographer retains the copyright” For more information on photo contests and why many of them are bad, really, really, bad. Search google, there are plenty of rights grab stories out there. For further information about contests and photographers rights as well as examples of good and bad contests; visit: pro-imaging.org/content/view/164/161/

UPDATE:

Examples

VERY BAD: Costco Photo Contest
Good, specific rules: Maine.gov photo contest

More links: are yougambling with your copyright by entering that photography contest?

Another local, Bad photocontest. Farm Bureau of Idaho

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