Photo Competitions: Watch Out for This! (Updated)

There are many photo competitions out there, many of which are hosted on the web in some capacity or another. A couple of the bigger ones include DP Review Challenges or the very popular challenge site of DP Challenge. Both of these are basically for a reward of glory amongst our peers rather than any form of monetary or prize option. However, every now and then, you'll get a media company clearly interested in getting a free crop of high quality images that will host a challenge... That brings me to the Toronto Star.

Just recently, the Toronto Star started a "Camera Club" in which they invite us, the reader, to submit photos on a monthly basis based on challenge that includes some video instruction to get you going. The top 10 in the challenge will be featured on the Star website. While I don't really need the instructional video, I thought the idea sounded like some fun, so trucked over to their Flickr group to see what it was about. Now, it's a wise idea to read the group rules as a general practice, but this time it is very important that you do so, here's why:

3. You grant the Toronto Star, a division of Toronto Star Newspapers Limited (the “Toronto Star”) and its affiliates, an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive worldwide license to use, reproduce, distribute, print, alter, edit, syndicate, license, and otherwise exploit the materials you submit, or any portion of them, in any manner and in any media or forum, whether or not currently known, without making payment to you or any third party. You authorize the Toronto Star and its affiliates to use your name in connection with the photos. You also waive any moral rights that you may have in the photos.

Whoa! For the rather minor thrill of the possibility of getting a photo published on the Star website you hand over any and all rights to your image? Seriously? So far there are over 150 people who've clearly failed to read or understand the group rules because if they understood them, they wouldn't be posting to the group. I'm certainly not going to do it, I have zero intention of ever waiving my rights to my images unless there is a substantial amount of money going along with it. Most importantly, I won't waive my moral rights to my images without even more money.

So, in my opinion, this is just another media company that is greedily seeking to mine a large volume of images, for free, and for their benefit. I may not be a professional photographer, but that doesn't mean that I don't find this concept to be entirely repugnant. I'm very disappointed in the Toronto Star for this.

Follow up on this one... I didn't really closely look at the 5th clause having already gotten myself hung up on the 3rd one, but this is also a doozy and I saw it after it was noted in the Flickr group:

5. You release the Toronto Star and its affiliates from any liability associated with the publication or distribution of your photos or any other exercise of the rights you have granted to us. You agree to indemnify, defend and hold harmless the Toronto Star and its affiliates, licencees, successors and assigns, and each of their officers, agents and employees from all liabilities or losses, including, without limitation, reasonable legal fees, arising out of or related to the exercise of the rights you have granted.

The beauty of this one is that, after giving away any rights to your image in section 3, you also get to agree to pay for any legal issues and outcomes that may arise if the Toronto Star decides to use, sell, or otherwise license your image out. So, for example, if you take a picture of something, the Star sells that picture to a business that then gets sued for it then that business will, in turn, sue the Star and you're now on the hook. Bonus for the Star? They still made their money selling the image in the first place. Neat business model huh? You lose, the buyer loses, the Star wins.


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