National Geographic Nature Photographer Contest 2016

About This Organisation

National Geographic

About this Organisation

traffic-light-stopNational Geographic gets you closer to the stories that matter. Through the world’s best scientists, photographers, journalists, and filmmakers, National Geographic captivates and entertains a global community through television channels, magazines, children’s media, travel expeditions, books, maps, consumer products, location-based entertainment and experiences, and some of the most engaging digital and social media platforms in the world. A joint venture with 21st Century Fox, National Geographic reinvests 27% of proceeds to help fund the conservation and education efforts of the National Geographic Society. About

About this Report

Competitions or appeals 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 are to help you decide whether or not you should participate in the competition or appeal. 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. Note: Rights for works created in the course of employment are usually owned by the employer (i.e. works for hire).

Rights have a value and you are free to decide what that value is. If a person or organisation wants to use your work to promote something, you have the right to refuse permission or to set a fee for a specific use. More information about intellectual property rights and their value to you can be read in our Guide to Rights & Licensing.

How this Organisation's Competitions or Appeals are Listed

Listed below in order of closing date are the competitions or appeals promoted by this organisation that we have reviewed.  For each we detail how their terms and conditions will exploit your rights. To read our review(s) just click on any competition/appeal title below.

CLICK HERE to see National Geographic Nature Photographer Contest 2016; closing date 04 Nov.,  2016

National Geographic Nature Photographer Contest 2016

TERMS AND CONDITIONS (as of 12 Sept., 2016)


The following are the terms and conditions, along with our comments, on how the will affect your rights should you submit your creative work to the competition. For reference, please see the Artists' Bill of Rights principles, to which they reference:

"For good and valuable consideration, the receipt and legal sufficiency of which is hereby acknowledged,each entrant hereby irrevocably and unconditionally grants to Sponsor, its successors and assigns the right (but not the obligation) to use entrant’s Submission in whole or in part, to reproduce, distribute, display and create derivative works of the entrant’s Submission (along with a name credit) in connection with the Contest and the marketing, advertising and promotion of the Contest, in any media now or hereafter known, for no additional compensation, as well as in and in connection with a display at a potential exhibition of winners; publication of a book featuring select Submissions in the Contest; publication in National Geographic Magazine or online highlighting Contest Submissions or winners of the Contest;"

Comment: We do not allow irrevocable and unconditional grants to competition organizers. Usage without specific time limits is not allowed. Winners, only, are allowed to be placed in an archive web gallery that is dedicated solely to the competition, if the competition runs year-to-year. Any marketing or promotional materials such as books, calendars, wallpapers, etc., must be directly related to the competition and its promotion, and is allowed only up to three years after the closing date of that year's competition. All other usage must be negotiated separately.

(By contrast, Sony World Photography is exemplary in running year-to-year international competitions, focused on celebrating the creative talents of a wide range of photographers. They are strong supporters of our principles.

"…and offering as downloadable wallpaper to users of the Contest website in any and all languages, by any and all means, media, devices, processes and technology now known or hereafter devised, in perpetuity throughout the universe at no charge to Sponsor."

Comment: The organizer should only have the right to publish entries in direct relation to the competition and its promotion, and only up to three years after the closing date of that year's competition. Nothing should be "in perpetuity". Encouraging downloading of entrants' work is not adviseable for obvious reasons. Along with the comprehensive waiver of moral rights they require (see below), entrants are just giving away free content to promote National Geographic, not the artist or their vision.

"The rights granted shall include, without limitation (i) all reproduction, distribution, adaptation, performance, fixation, rental and lending rights, exhibition, broadcast and all other rights of communication to the public; (ii) the right to make changes to the Submission, and to use such Submission as Sponsor shall from time to time determine in its sole discretion; (iii) the right to authorize, prohibit and/or control the renting, lending, fixation, reproduction, importation and/or other exploitation of the Submission as may be conferred under any applicable laws, regulations or directives, including, without limitation, any treaty, European Union (“EU”) directives and/or enabling or implementing legislation, or any law or regulation enacted by the member nations of the EU or any other jurisdiction;"

Comment: National Geographic is exceeding the rights they request in their opening paragraph considerably, and nothing about the above is connecting usage exclusively to the competition. All image use must be directly related to the competition, or the promotion thereof. Any other use needs to be negotiated separately with the artist.

"…and (iv) all rights generally known as “moral rights” or “droit moral” rights (which shall include, without limitation, any similar or analogous rights under the applicable laws of any country of the world [including, without limitation, the so-called right of paternity (droit a la paternity), right of integrity [droit au respect de l’oeuvre], right of withdrawal [droit de retrait or droit de repentir] and/or right of publication [droit divulgation]) which I may have in connection with the Submission (collectively, the “Moral Rights”)). In addition to the fullest extent allowable under any applicable law, each entrant hereby irrevocably waives or assigns to Sponsors entrant’s Moral Rights."

Comment: Waiver of moral rights should never be allowed. This is the most detailed, end-run around moral rights we've ever seen. Waiving your moral rights means you will not be able to object to how your work is used in future, such as having it altered in a manner you may find derogatory, or used to promote a product or cause you find objectionable. You have also lost your right to be credited as the author of your work.

"Each entrant expressly acknowledges that many parties will contribute to the National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest and National Geographic Magazine Accordingly, if under any applicable law the above waiver or assignment by entrant of the Moral Rights is not effective, then entrant agrees to exercise such rights in a manner that recognizes the contribution of and will not have a material adverse effect upon such other parties."

Comment: This phrase probably applies to wallpapers, cutouts or collages they may want to create and publish and offer for download, where one entrant is objecting to the usage. We must always maintain our moral rights. The bottom line: images submitted to the contest should primarily be about promoting the artists and the integrity of their work, not for providing free content to National Geographic.

"Sponsor shall retain the rights granted in each Submission even if the Submission is disqualified or fails to meet the Submission Requirements or even it if it determined that the entrant who made the Submission is ineligible to enter the Contest or win a prize."

Comment: This statement basically completes what is an all encompassing rights grab. The only way these terms differ from effectively usurping the entrant's copyright is they are not asking for exclusive use. Otherwise, as the terms indicate, National Geographic will use anything submitted, however they wish, in perpetuity, and without attribution.

By participating in this Contest, each entrant agrees: (i) that any and all disputes the entrant may have with, or claims entrant may have against, the Promotion Entities relating to, arising out of or connected in any way with (a) the Contest, …will be resolved exclusively by final and binding arbitration administered by JAMS and conducted before a sole arbitrator in accordance with the rules of JAMS;…(iii) the arbitration shall be held in Los Angeles, California; …(viii) in the event that the administrative fees and deposits that must be paid to initiate arbitration against Sponsor exceed $125 USD, and entrant is unable (or not required under the rules of JAMS) to pay any fees and deposits that exceed this amount, Sponsor agrees to pay them and/or forward them on entrant’s behalf, subject to ultimate allocation by the arbitrator; … (ix) if the entrant is able to demonstrate that the costs of arbitration will be prohibitive as compared to the costs of litigation, Sponsor will pay as much of entrant’s filing and hearing fees in connection with the arbitration as the arbitrator deems necessary to prevent the arbitration from being cost-prohibitive;

Comment: The partial reproduction of the "Arbitration Provision" above means that should you have any disputes, including copyright claims, you will be required to pay at least $125 (or more, depending on your circumstances) and take your claim to Los Angeles, California in order to enter into arbitration.

Reach Out

You can express your opinion through social networks using @natgeophotos, #natgeophotos, or on Facebook.

The Artists' Bill of Rights campaign depends on your active support, your help will make a difference.


See our Introduction to Rights and Licensing for basic information about how images should properly be used.

For further guidance please read the Bill of Rights for Artists, particularly our Bill of Rights Principles.


About the Artists' Bill of Rights

The Artists' Bill of Rights principles for Creative Competitions

Competitions which meet all the standards set out in the Bill of Rights For Artists do not do any of the following -

  • claim copyright
  • claim exclusive use
  • seek waiving of moral rights
  • fail to give a credit for all free usage
  • add, alter, or remove metadata from submissions
  • seek usage rights other than for promoting the contest and no other purpose. Note that a book, posters, cards, or a calendar are seen as legitimate ways of promoting the contest and defraying costs
  • seek free usage rights in excess of 3 years
  • use the submissions commercially without the entrant's agreement, and such commercial usage is to be subject to a freely negotiated license independently of the competition.
  • make it a condition of winning that an entrant must sign a commercial usage agreement
  • fail to publish all documents on the competition website that an entrant may have to sign
  • fail to name the judges for this or last year's competition
  • fail to explicitly state all the organisations who will acquire rights to the submissions
  • set a closing date more than 18 months after the contest launch date
  • fail to make clear statements of rights claimed and how submissions are used.

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 Bill of Rights For Artists.

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. founded the Artists' Bill of Rights in 2007

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