A great photo contest? For who? Not the photographers that’s for sure…

I received an email a few days ago about a photo contest here in Canada. Family Camping & Canoeroots Magazine and Parks Canada are sponsors in this “contest”?

Contests are fine and dandy but when it looks like the reason for the contest is to harvest a supply of free photos the tables seem a little bit tipped in favor of the contest organizers. A little bit? Well maybe completely in their favor.

Why on earth would anyone enter a contest and not by winning but by the act of entering give up rights to their photos. Oh yeah, another cute bit, “The Participants will further grant to Parks Canada Agency and Rapid Magazine Inc. the right to archive the submitted photos and to use them as part of educational or business activities.”

So I enter, don’t win anything and by virtue of entering this contest both Parks Canada and Rapid Magazine Inc. can use them for their “business” activities? Plain and simple this looks like a ripoff or at the very least a bad deal for photographers. My advice is to always read the fine print and STAY AWAY from contests like this.

Copyright Notice

With respect to any photo entered in this contest, each Participant, or the copyright holder for these photos, would retain the copyright. By uploading or entering a photo in the contest, the Participants agree to grant (or certify that the photo’s copyright holder expressly grants) to Rapid Magazine Inc., the Parks Canada Agency and the member agencies of the Canadian Heritage Rivers Board of the CHRS a world-wide, royalty-free, irrevocable and non-exclusive right and license to use, copy, adapt, transmit, communicate, publish, publicly display and distribute, as well as create and distribute compilations and derivative works or merchandise from any such submitted photos to promote the contest or any resulting public display. The Participants will further grant to Parks Canada Agency and Rapid Magazine Inc. the right to archive the submitted photos and to use them as part of educational or business activities. The Participants will finally represent and warrant that they have the right to grant the license set out above.

Why do companies keep doing this sort of thing? Probably because they can get enough photos for free for their commercial and educational? use. Educational? Yeah, right.

Happy shooting,


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~ by Dan Jurak on July 24, 2011.

2 Responses to “A great photo contest? For who? Not the photographers that’s for sure…”

  1. i first learned on this a while back and it’s a crazy rude business practice- like a duping, a bait-and-switch, or any other kind of rip-off scam, it just isn’t righteous. good of you to point this out as this practice is too rarely examined. later on Dan, have a good one Bub- Nate.

  2. I wonder if this sort of thing went on before the digital age put a camera in everybody’s hands. Somehow I doubt it. Canadian Geographic magazine has a very similar policy for their photo contests…any photograph submitted to a contest can be used by CG or their affiliates to promote their contests in the future. I must admit that I’ve fallen into this myself…one of my pictures won a contest and was then published again in a special edition collection of wildlife photographs (without payment for the second publication). They will also be publishing a photo I submitted in last year’s contest in an upcoming special edition.

    It’s a dilemma for me…do I continue to submit photographs to a contest knowing that they have a right to publish it in the future without paying me? It might seem like a no-brainer to a more established photographer, but for anyone trying to get their name out there, it isn’t quite so simple, IMHO. It seems like good publicity to have your work and name out there. They rely on this as an enticement.

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