All Fstoppers Tutorials on Sale!

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.

Photo London, H&M, Nikon competition terms and conditions

“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.

Log in or register to post comments

38 Comments

Previous comments
Ross Alexander's picture

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! ;-)

Richard Richard's picture

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

Kenneth Svendlund's picture

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.

Karim Hosein's picture

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.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

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

Karim Hosein's picture

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."

Peter Jones's picture

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 ... ?