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By Entering This Photo Competition, You Give Your Copyright to Nikon and a High Street Fashion Brand For Free

By Entering This Photo Competition, You Give Your Copyright to Nikon and a High Street Fashion Brand For Free

Paying money to enter competitions for little more than exposure is standard practice in the world of photography these days, but a competition hosted by Photo London went one step further: it required you to sign over your intellectual property to Nikon and a major high street fashion brand.

The competition — since taken offline — was hosted by Photo London, an annual festival with some big sponsors on board. High street clothing giant H&M was a partner for the competition for which the theme was "Autumnal light." As the prize, Nikon was offering a one-to-one session at the Nikon School Online along with a brand new Z 50 camera.

Those entering had to set up an account on the H&M website before clicking through to a Google Docs form that asked you to enter details, upload a photo, and acknowledge some terms and conditions.

By submitting a photo, entrants were agreeing to hand over all intellectual property rights to PhotoLondon, H&M, and Nikon. “All competition entries and any accompanying material submitted to The Competition will become the property of H&M, Photo London, and Nikon on receipt and will not be returned,” the legally-binding document explained.

“By submitting your competition entry and any accompanying material you agree to assign H&M, Photo London and Nikon all your intellectual property rights with full title guarantee,” it continues. In effect, Nikon and H&M would then have the right to use your photograph however they wished without paying you a penny or giving you any say over its use. You would no longer be the sole owner of your own photograph.

Photo London was reached for comment but has not responded to questions.

Andy Day's picture

Andy Day is a British photographer and writer living in France. He began photographing parkour in 2003 and has been doing weird things in the city and elsewhere ever since. He's addicted to climbing and owns a fairly useless dog. He has an MA in Sociology & Photography which often makes him ponder what all of this really means.

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That's pretty crazy. One possibility is that some amateur lawyer at H&M just copied boiler plate from another agreement they fished up, thinking these terms were typical.

Is it possible to give away copyright by law in the uk? I mean companies are writing a lot but if the law says something else the law wins. Ok in Europe it is like this. In germany it is not possible by law to sell or give away the copyright. The author always keeps it, no mater what a contract might says.

If it is an EU law then (after Brexit) it may be a gray area. I know that in Ireland the copyright cannot be snatched away easily.

Nope, I'll stick to being downvoted by trolls on this site, that does nothing about trolls.

A lot of your comments are inherently negative, maybe try a different spin and the voting pattern will improve.

First, don't let anyone vote or comment on this site without posting images to their page. That should end most troll nonsense. People like Cool Cat (nice fake name), with a profile with no pics, fake location and yet trolls constantly.

I don’t disagree with that bit, I’m a big advocate of people at least sharing some work on photography social sites they participate in. I also feel if someone wants to be hugely negative about gear or someone else’s work (be it another user or the author of an article) then they need to be fronting up with their skills. My point was more around being abrupt with your comments, it might be just the way you are but over sensitive people will take offence and will likely downvote, also if it becomes a pattern then people just associate you with that trait and that will also motivate them to downvote.

They down vote about everyone in contest so it's a troll thing. I don't mine being judged by my peers, just not morons that are too embarrassed to post their bad work but troll their jealousy on everyone else.

David Love is one example of a few people on this site who thinks he is wiser than most. I seen him criticize people for liking something he doesn't by telling them its garbage. If he was to stop insulting people with tasteless opinions he might get a better response.

P.S. Personally, I never voted on his images and couldn't careless.

First, stop caring about likes, up/down votes, less than 5 star ratings etc...

Second, never argue with cats.

Pointless. I had some pictures posted on my profile, and for a very long time, no one ever voted on any of them. One day, I had a comment disagreement with someone, who was quite hot-headed.

That ended with some serious ad hominem attacks against me, and vulgar language. A few minutes later, I got my first image ratings; all negative (one star).

What is the point of posting one's images, if it is only for disgruntled snowflakes to massage their superiority complex? I actually know three great —in my opinion— photographers here who said they removed their work from this site for that specific reason.

My images are still up, because I do not care who likes them or not, but having images posted ought NOT be a criterion for commenting on an article, or someone else's comments. It might be a good criterion for rating other's images, though.

Anyone that joins a photography site with a fake name and no pictures to show they are of the community should not be allowed to just troll and spam. That to me is one of the only ways here you can tell if someone is giving judgement or just here to be a moron.

It does not. Did you read what I wrote? It is like not allowing non-ticketed passengers at the gate; it does not prevent terrorists, it just forces them to buy a ticket first.

Your solution does not prevent trolls and spam, it simply makes them have to make an effort to be a moron.

Besides, some people here are beginners, and need to ask questions and/or make comments, but either do not want to show their pedestrian snapshots, or feel embarrassed about it, (or do not want morons giving them grief over it). You cannot force them to post pics, just to participate in a discussion.

To find out that someone gave you 1 star rating you need to come back to your portfolio and check every image.

Yes, I know. (That is how I know). But it does not change the situation, does it?

Quoting you: "I do not care who likes them or not". You seem to care.

If I cared, I would have pulled them down. This is NOT about the bad votes. (I do not care). It is about the proposition that the forum will be a better place if only those who post images to their profiles were allowed to comment.

Just because something was mentioned during a conversation, does NOT mean that the person who mentioned them cared. The point of saying that I do not care, is to address that the negative votes was NOT the point of the post.

Clearly, you got the wrong takeaway.

[EDIT reason=“quote in context”]
“I actually know three… photographers here who said they removed their work from this site for that specific reason. My images are still up, because I do not care who likes them or not….”

Text without context is a pretext.

Cool cat = political troll. Nothing to say, nothing to show.

So you make it your business to tell someone it's not their business. You sound totally confused.


Greedy SOBs.

Thanks for the heads up! Entering my images now!

Entering or exiting?

I imagine if they liked your entry you would receive a request for a high resolution file or the RAW file so they can publish it or add it to a book project that will be for sale.

If that were the case, why would they grab copyright ownership of whatever you submit? They can say, "Look, you don't own the image any more, so you can't do anything with that RAW file. Why don't you just send it to us, and maybe we'll give you a prize?"

Looks like they desrve to be inundated with a huge number of the crappiest photos everyone can take..

Now that's a great idea!

I can remember when a buddy of mine entered a photo contest through a low quality magazine called Photo Life, and he saw his losing entry on a billboard 30 years later. He never became a professional photographer, but quite a successful rep working for NGOs in poor countries as an on the ground economist. Great place to take photos, while doing some good in the world. My point is that his early brush with these types of people and organizations who harvest other people’s data regardless if it’s analog or digital, ruin it for many.

We all need to check the fine print. And it's our choice whether we want to give away something for free for the chance of getting something else for free. I entered a competition recently and a stipulation was that the company could use the images for their marketing. I don't usually bother with such competitions because I feel it takes advantage of photographers. I made an exception this time though as the winners last year were pretty poor! If I win I can put 'award winning photographer' on my website! ;-)

Another day, another anti Nikon article from Andy Day. Don't give up the day job Andy! Or maybe this your day job?

I was recently approached by a New York based magazine to do a shoot with a Barcelona local music scene influencer. Images were to be used in their magazine and social media and assignment was unpaid, which was fine for me as I saw the opportunity to get my name out there, that was until I read the release that said I would sign over the copyright of the images. I turned the assignment down. One thing is doing it for a paid assignment, but unpaid...no. There really is no reason to sign over the copyrights, I have publish editorials several times where they just get limited rights to publish the images.

The part about, “All competition entries and any accompanying material submitted to The Competition will become the property of [The Competition & Sponsors] on receipt and will not be returned,” is par for the course. That means that they own that copy of the image, not any IP rights.

The part where they say that you grant them and their sponsors an irrevocable license to use the images for the full duration of the competition, for marketing, & promotion, for a full year, (typically until the next year's competition is complete), is also typical, but not always included.

To allow their sponsors to use the image in anyway they want, for a period of one year, is not entirely uncommon.

To do a full , irrevocable, complete IP grab at the very start, is usually the sign of a con. One typically will not see this in legitimate competitions.

"become the property" means "become the intellectual property" for me. Though, I'm not that strong in UK IP law.

When one sells a photograph to someone, they now own that copy of the photo. They can hang it, hide it, burn it, dump it, or resell it. They own it. It is their property.

What they cannot do is copy it, license it, publish it, or publicly exhibit it. They need IP rights to do so, and that does not come with the purchase of the property, (hence the term, "all rights reserved.")

The first paragraph says, they own it, (that copy), and are free to dispose of it at the end of the competition. (They do not have to return it to you).

The second paragraph says that they can exhibit the work, usually for a limited time.

The third paragraph says that they can profit from the work, usually for a limited time.

The fourth paragraph says, "You have been PWN'ed. All your base are belong to us."

In any competition it always pays to have a very close look at the terms and conditions; it is amazing how many have similar clauses in their t&c. I wonder though that such may come under unfair terms and conditions ... ?