Competitions seeking submissions of creative works from the public, works such as photos, videos, poems, music, etc., are reviewed by the Artists' Bill of Rights campaign. The reviews will help you decide if you should participate.
When you create a work (e.g., a photo) the law automatically makes you the sole beneficiary of certain rights over that work. These rights are called intellectual property rights.
Rights have a value and you are free to decide what that value is. You have the right to refuse permission or to set a fee for a specific use for any work you create. More information about intellectual property rights and their value to you can be read in our Guide to Rights & Licensing.
We thank Vox for their initial reporting pointing up issues with the #NatGeo100contest. The terms have changed since their report, as Vox indicated, but they seem to have gotten worse in some respects. See below.
This contest requried entrants to submit images via Instagram. Although Instragram is hugely popular, entrants will be bound by two sets of terms and conditions - those of Instagram and those of National Geographic.
We question whether Instagram's terms cover the granting of intellectual property rights to third parties merely by the use of a hashtag.
We also have to assume National Geographic will need to download images from Instagram servers or create an Instagram-approved API in order to display the entrants' images on their websites and that of their promoters and sponsors. We're not sure what method they are or will be using and if they are actually approved by Instagram's terms of service.
Furthermore, social media platforms are infamous for stripping ownership metadata from any submission. Instagram's handling of metadata could be improved. See more and learn how to run your own tests.
To its credit, National Geographic prevents right-clicking for download of images (displaying a "respect copyright" notice) in their slideshow of the most liked Instagram photos.
In order of appearance in the terms:
GRANT OF RIGHTS: For good and valuable consideration, the receipt and legal sufficiency of which is hereby acknowledged, each entrant into the Contest hereby irrevocably grants Sponsor, its successors and assigns, a non-exclusive, limited license (but not the obligation) to reproduce exploit and otherwise use the Submission solely in connection with the Contest and the marketing and promotion thereof, throughout the universe, in perpetuity, in any and all media, without further notice to, consent by, or payment to entrant.
You are granting irrevocable use beyond that of the need to promote the competition. Non-winning entries should have a time limit of three years for usage directly related to the competition only. Winning images may be used longer but under very limited conditions. No mention is made of such limits in the terms. See "item 4" below.
Without in any way limiting the foregoing, Sponsor shall have the right, in its sole discretion, to edit, composite, morph, scan, duplicate, or alter the Submission in connection with Sponsor’s permitted uses hereunder and each entrant irrevocably waives any and all so-called moral rights they may have therein.
Moral Rights are extremely important. See "items 1 & 2" below for more information.
Sponsor shall have the right to freely assign its rights hereunder, in whole or in part, to any person or entity.
Entrants basically have lost control of how their work will be used and for how long. Any rights that the entrant has given National Geographic, those rights can now be assigned to "any person or entity" of National Geographic's choice. See "item 5" below.
Sponsor shall retain the rights granted in each Submission even if the Submission is disqualified or fails to meet the Submission Requirements.
This is hardly necessary for promotion of the competition, merely an unnecessary rights grab.
PUBLICITY RELEASE: By participating in the Contest, in addition to any other grants which may be granted in any other agreement entered into between Sponsor and any entrant in or winner of the Contest, each entrant irrevocably grants the Promotion Entities and their respective successors, assigns and licensees, the right to use such entrant’s name, likeness, biographical information and Submission, and any individual(s) participating therein, in any and all media in connection with the Website or the Contest or the marketing and promotion thereof and hereby release the Promotion Entities from any liability with respect thereto.
You are forever releasing any person or business (and their successors) promoting or marketing entries from any liability for improper display or crediting (or lack thereof) of your work whether used in connection with "the Website" or the "marketing or promotion thereof". "Promotion Entities" should be limited and given clear guidelines as to how entries should be used in promotions, i.e., always credited, only in direct relation to the competition, keeping metadata intact.
HOW THESE TERMS AND CONDITIONS WILL AFFECT YOU
The following notes explain how the above terms and conditions affect your rights in respect of any works you submit to the #NatGeo100contest.
The terms and conditions require you to waive your moral rights. This means you will not be able to object to how your work is used in future, such as it being altered in a manner you may find derogatory. Although Nat'l Geo does a decent job of crediting photographers, you have forever lost your right to be credited as the author of your work.
The terms and conditions do not state you will always be credited when your work is reproduced. One of your most important moral rights is that you should be credited as the author of a work whenever it is reproduced.
The terms and conditions state that if you win, or are a potential winner, you are required to complete various additional forms, but the terms and conditions of these additional forms are not displayed on the competition website.
The terms and conditions are granting the organiser unlimited use of your work forever. For non-winning works a usage time limit of 3 years or less should be set with usage limited solely to promoting the competition or appeal. It is permissable to use winning works forever but only in a permanent winners gallery with the sole purpose of promoting a recurring competition or appeal.
The terms and conditions could grant the organiser the right to use your work beyond that needed to promote the competition or appeal. Your work could be used for other purposes. Usage of your work should be restricted solely to promoting the competition or appeal. If the organisation wishes to use your work for any other purpose they should negotiate with you independently of the competition. You should have the right to negotiate an appropriate fee for the specific use they want to make of your work and to set a time limit on such use. You should also have the right to refuse use of your work. For further information on fees and licensing refer to the Introduction to Rights and Licensing.
(Correction, February 22, 2019: This post was edited slightly for syntax and grammar.)
The Artists' Bill of Rights campaign depends on your active support, your help will make a difference.
Competitions which meet all the standards set out in the Bill of Rights For Artists do not do any of the following -
We have written an Organisers Guide to the Bill of Rights to help organisers draft terms and conditions that respect the rights of entrants and at the same time provide legal protection for the organiser.
© Bill of Rights Supporters Group
The above text may be reproduced providing a link is given to the Artists Bill of Rights.
Any text reproduced in italics in this report has been extracted from a competition or appeal website for the purposes of review.
Organisations who would like to be promoted as a Bill of Rights Supporter and have their competitions promoted on the Rights On List can use this contact form. We look forward to hearing from you.
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who are pro-active in defending photographers rights.