Archive for Canadian Geographic Magazine

Another Canadian Geographic Rights Grabbing Photo Contest

Posted in Controversy, Ethics, Magazines, Rants, Sad News with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 10, 2010 by Darwin

Canadian Geographic magazine hosts numerous photo contents per year through their popular Canadian Geographic Photo Club. The club is a really good idea and the photo contests have great themes and some nice prizes but by entering these competitions your are at minimum giving away your photos to be used by Canadian Geographic magazine in any way it sees fit. That might seem acceptable or the price ‘you pay for winning’ but this right grabs applies to any image entered! Also Canadian Geo partners with ‘sponsors’ for each contest and these partners also get to use your photos however they want. For example, in their Canadian Wildlife Photography of the Year Contest they partner with the Canadian Museum of Nature and in their Heritage Treasures of Parks Canada Photography Contest they pair up with Parks Canada. In their latest contest The Canadian Geographic Annual Contest (26th edition) they team up with the Forest Products Association of Canada (The Voice of Canada’s Wood, Pulp and Paper Products). This quote below is from the contest page and clearly lays out what rights you are giving away:

Canadian Geographic and the Forest Products Association of Canada (in regard exclusively to the “Framing the Forest” category) reserve the non-exclusive right to publish any entry and/or use any entry in its promotional material during or after the Contest without further compensation to the entrants. For FPAC, promotional material shall include without limitation any print or electronic advertising or marketing material such as posters, online images, newspaper ads, television ads, e-mails and social media content. FPAC further reserves the non-exclusive right to publish and publicly display without further compensation to the entrants any or all winning photos as part of a promotional publicity tour of the photos at a date and for a period of time to be determined by FPAC in its sole discretion.

With regard to any photo submitted to the Contest, you, or the owner of copyright in the photograph, retain all copyright. By uploading or submitting any photo to the Contest, you grant (or warrant that the owner of such materials expressly grants) Canadian Geographic Enterprises and FPAC and its affiliates and licensors a world-wide, perpetual, royalty-free, irrevocable and non-exclusive right and license to use, copy, adapt, transmit, communicate, publicly display and perform, distribute and create compilations and derivative works or merchandise from any such submitted photograph to promote the Canadian Geographic Photo Club, its photo contests or FPAC in general.

Why would anyone willingly enter this competition where you essentially grant a royalty free license to Canadian Geo, FPAC and ‘affliates’ (whoever those may be)? And yet there are hundreds of entries from photographers.

There are several possibilities.

  • Some people must not read the rules closely and so miss out on the fact that they are granting worldwide royalty free rights to the photos they enter.
  • Some photographers are naive about their rights and the rights they are giving away and have no clue what the rules are asking them to give up
  • Some photographers don’t care. They are thrilled to have their photos published by anyone for any use just for the thrill of seeing their work online or in print.
  • Other photographers are entering strategically. They shoot a lot of material and so are willing to give up an image or two for the chance at winning a prize.

I raise this contest as an example of how many photo competitions are actually just ‘excuses’ to make money (where entry fees are charged) or to get free images for advertising and editorial uses. If you enter photo contests, please read the rules carefully. Are you willing to give up what is asked? Only you can decide. If you want a great site listing some crappy and some good contests to enter go to Photo Attorney (this is also a great legal resource site for photographers)!  Also see my previous rant about Canadian Geographic. And if you want to see what my ‘rules’ are for the photo contests I run on this blog go here

Canadian Geographic Magazine Photo Contest Rights Grab?

Posted in Controversy, Ethics, Magazines, Rants, Sad News with tags , , , , , , on March 7, 2010 by Darwin

Canadian Geographic Magazine and Parks Canada have organized a photo contest entitled: Heritage Treasures of Parks Canada Photography Contest with three categories: Nature in Parks Canada, National Historic Sites, and Visitors at Parks Canada. The grand prize is a $3000 VIA Rail gift card and a Discovery National Pass to Canadian National Parks and Heritage Sites. The deadline is October 29, 2010.

The two paragraphs below are directly cut and pasted from Canadian Geographic’s Rules and Regulations page for this contest:

Publication

Winners of the grand prize, the top three prizes in each category and a special mention in the “Nature in Parks Canada” category will have their photo and name published in a future edition of Canadian Geographic, on the Canadian Geographic Photo Club Web site (photoclub.canadiangeographic.ca) and on the Parks Canada Web site (pc.gc.ca). The participant who wins the special mention for the International Year of Biodiversity in 2010 in the “Nature in Parks Canada” category will also have his or her photo and name published on Canada’s official Web site for the International Year of Biodiversity. Canadian Geographic and the Parks Canada Agency reserve the non-exclusive right to publish any entry and/or use any entry in promotional material. The participant is responsible for releasing copyright to the photo, and this copyright release must be available if the photo wins. All photos will be credited to the author’s name.

Copyright Notice

With respect to any photo entered in this contest, you, or the copyright holder for these photos, retain the copyright. By uploading or entering a photo in the contest, you grant (or certify that the photo’s copyright holder expressly grants) Canadian Geographic Enterprises, the Parks Canada Agency and its affiliated groups 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. You further grant the Parks Canada Agency the right to archive the submitted photos and to use them as part of educational or business activities. You represent and warrant that you have the right to grant the license set out above.

Here is my perspective and opinion about the rules and regulations:

First, the issue of copyright is totally unclear. In paragraph one, we have Canadian Geographic telling us that “The participant is responsible for releasing copyright to the photo, and this copyright release must be available if the photo wins”. I read this as meaning that Canadian Geographic expects participants and especially winners will hand over their copyright to Canadian Geographic. But then in paragraph two, Canadian Geographic tells us; “With respect to any photo entered in this contest, you, or the copyright holder for these photos, retain the copyright”. Which one is it? Does the photographer retain copyright or not? Or is it only the contest winners who give up copyright? At the very least I think Canadian Geographic should rewrite the rules so we clearly know who retains copyright.

The issue of who owns copyright is huge. I am not a lawyer, but in my 25 years as a photographer, if I gave up copyright, I gave up ownership of my photo. While Canadian Geographic may credit you with taking the photo, the rules do not seem to require this in all the uses they may make of your photo. And, in my experience, if you transfer copyright they can do whatever they want with your photo without your permission. Technically, you no longer have any rights to the photo. You can’t sell it, print it, display it etc. without first getting permission from Canadian Geographic. Giving up copyright to your photos is like handing over your kids for adoption. Are the prizes worth giving up copyright? Only you can decide. For me, I would not enter this contest if I had to give up copyright.

Secondly, this line in paragraph two really worries me: “By uploading or entering a photo in the contest, you grant (or certify that the photo’s copyright holder expressly grants) Canadian Geographic Enterprises, the Parks Canada Agency and its affiliated groups 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.” So even if the photographer still holds the copyright, simply by entering the competition Canadian Geographic, Parks Canada and affiliated groups (who knows how many) essentially have license to do what they wish with your photos. It might seem that such promotion is only in regard to the photo contest but when I see the word merchandise I get nervous. Does this mean Canadian Geographic can make a t-shirt with your photo and sell that t-shirt to promote future photo contests? If so, you will not see a dime of the proceeds. Maybe this was not Canadian Geographic’s intent but they still have the rights if they wanted to go this route.

If granting a royalty-free right to promote the contest does not worry you, then this line might make you pause: “You further grant the Parks Canada Agency the right to archive the submitted photos and to use them as part of educational or business activities.” To me this means Parks Canada can use your images in any way they want from educational slide shows and web information to actually using your photos in advertisements without any recompense or credit to the photographer. They can even license your photos for a fee to anyone without you ever getting a residual royalty. You might as well just put your photo entries on a disc and hand them over to Parks Canada to use as they wish because, in my experience, by entering the Canadian Geographic contest that is what you are effectively doing.

So… if you plan to enter this contest, be aware of what you may be giving up. I would also suggest anyone who is not happy with the terms of the competition or the clarity of the rules should write to Canadian Geographic with their concerns. More and more I see photo contests essentially taking all rights from the photographers and often entrants naively still enter because they don’t read or understand the rules. Part of the problem in this case is that the rights you are giving up are not clearly spelled out. Go here to email Canadian Geographic your concerns.

For an example of more a photographer friendly competition check out Nature’s Best Magazine’s Rules and Guidelines.

For another example of a rights grab contest see Bob Krist’s entry here