Photo by Derrick Tyson/Flickr
Just when I thought it can’t get any worse with regards to the copyright situation for photographers, I came across the Nivea USA photo contest, named Nivea XOXO, looking for photos of “the most kissable person”.
Let’s have a look at the official contest rules (as of 08/10/08):
The photo cannot have been submitted previously in a promotion of any kind or exhibited or displayed publicly through any means.
Aha. So they want fresh, unique, previously unpublished material.
You must be the sole owner of the copyright of any image submitted. Your submission of a photo is your guarantee that you are the copyright holder of the photo.
Nivea seems to be concerned very much about copyrights. Too bad that many of the participants will be teenagers who have just a very vague understanding of the copyright concept at best. But Nivea’s legal team probably knows what they are doing.
If your photo contains an image of another individual, you must obtain express written permission to use that individual’s name, image and likeness and provide it to Sponsor upon request and you and the individual depicted may be required to sign a publicity waiver and release form provided by Sponsor.
Uh-oh. This is disaster waiting to happen. Beiersdorf wants a model release for persons appearing in the photo. Again, with mainly young folks participating in this contest, I doubt that many participants do even know what this passage is all about. It will be interesting whether this may provoke an incident similar to the Virgin case, where Virgin Australia was using a photo without proper model release.
But now for the rights grab! Drumroll, please…
All Entries will become the exclusive property of Sponsor, and none will be acknowledged or returned. Sponsor shall have the right to edit, adapt and publish any or all of the photos, and may use them in any media without attribution or compensation to the entrant, his/her successors or assigns, or any other entity. SUBMITTING AN ENTRY IN THIS CONTEST CONSTITUTES ENTRANT’S IRREVOCABLE ASSIGNMENT, CONVEYANCE AND TRANSFERENCE TO SPONSOR OF ANY AND ALL RIGHT, TITLE AND INTEREST IN THE PHOTO INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, ALL COPYRIGHTS.
Isn’t it beautiful? “Exclusive property” means that even the photographer can not use, licence, or otherwise monetize this photo any longer! No attribution. No compensation. In other words: this is an obvious and blatant grab for photo rights! I expect this competition to turn up on The Rights Off List soon.
Such rules make me sick, really. I would not have expected a respected German company, Beiersdorf AG, to grab so blatantly for photo rights. Is the economy that bad by now that they can not even afford any royalties at all for the use of images, however small such royalties may be? I can already envision teenagers who submit their photos and while they did not win anything, they may find their photos appear in major NIVEA print campaigns. With no dime paid and no credit given, these kids will be disappointed.
I can understand the underlying math done by the Beiersdorf folks, though. They spend about $7,800 on two grand prizes, plus a nifty web site. In return they get ownership of 1,000s of images. Even if just a small percentage of the images qualify for their commercial purposes they still can save a lot of money. No need to pay the photographer, no need to pay an agency. Another proof point that commercial photography is doomed.
For those who claim that anybody is free to enter the contest at the given rules (or refrain from doing so). I agree. Nobody is forced to submit images. But that’s not the point here. The point is to make photographers, especially young amateur photographers, aware of the fact that by entering photo competitions they often give away precious rights to their photos in return for – nothing. Such copyright grabs devalue photography even further and thus harm the entire photo industry.
Again, this makes me sick.
I am convinced that there is absolutely no point in supporting such photo contests. I just hope that you think twice before submitting your photos to any photo contest. And please read the fine print. It’s well worth it!
P.S.: Having said that, I think it’s easy to avoid Nivea products – just don’t buy them! I certainly won’t. :-)