How DIT’s “Iomha ’08” photo contest can hijack your rights

So, you’re all fired up and ready to enter a new photography content? Dublin Institute of Technology are holding a worthwhile photo content in the run up to Seachtain na Gaeilge this year. They are “seeking photographic entries on the theme of An Ghaeilge Bheo – Irish: The Living Language from both Ireland and abroad”. There’s a first prize of €1,500 which is not to be sniffed at!

Unfortunately if you enter, you’re giving up some of your rights as a photographer. From the rules:

14. Entrants will retain copyright in their submitted entries. However, by entering the competition all entrants grant the competition organisers a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual licence to use and publish each entry in any and all media (including print and online), for exhibition, publicity and any other purposes which the competition organisers in their sole discretion deem appropriate. DIT reserves the right to use the entries in the promotion and publicity campaign for the competition including exhibition and publishing of the images. All entries and entrants’ details will be securely stored.

What does that mean for you? Let’s say you have some beautiful shots of the West of Ireland, in an area where Irish is spoken. Like many people you’d like to make a bit of money out of your hobby. Who will buy your image? Tourists might, but competition is fierce and it’s hard to get the shelf space for your art work. What about Government bodies? Maybe one of those departments advocating the Irish language will buy it?
Good luck if you’ve entered that image in this competition. You’ve just handed DIT, Foras na Gaeilge, Oideas Gael and who knows who else the right to use your image in whatever way they like. You never know. Check the DIT Prospectus next year. Instead of paying money for a professional photographer they will have a ready made library of free photos to use, forever.

OK, before you scream, “Nutter! They wouldn’t do that!” I agree, they probably won’t, but DIT aren’t the only ones to do this. National Geographic have a Your Shot page every month where they invite photographers to submit their best images. Guess what’s buried in the tems and conditions of that contest? They’re not the only well known brand to do it.

Jim reminded me that even Facebook have some dodgy wording in their terms and conditions. How would you like that drunken picture of you singing and laughing at a bar with beer bottle in hand to appear in a Facebook advert? It could happen ..

Many photography contests have similar terms and conditions. Before submitting a photo, read the small print. Even if you never want to sell an image, it won’t be nice to discover a treasured photo used in an inappropriate way.