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There is a new weekly photo competition in the Guardian Weekend magazine which at first glance looked quite interesting. However, on reading the terms & conditions, I spotted this:
IN CONSIDERATION OF GNL AGREEING TO CONSIDER THE ENTRY, EACH ENTRANT ASSIGNS TO GNL THE COMPLETE COPYRIGHT AND ALL OTHER RIGHTS IN ANY ENTRY WHICH SHALL BE FOR THE FULL PERIOD OF COPYRIGHT. GNL SHALL BE FREE TO ASSIGN SUCH RIGHTS TO THIRD PARTIES.
I’ve seen people get heated up over terms on other photo competitions (e.g. the BBC One Show), but this one seems to take the biscuit. Basically they are saying that once you hit the “send” button, the picture which was formerly yours now belongs to Guardian Newspapers in perpetuity, to do as they see fit. EVEN IF THEY NEVER SHORTLIST YOUR PHOTO, they still own it and can publish it whenever they want, and can also sue you if you try to use it again yourself.
The subtext, it seems, is that GNL is trying to build up its own extensive image library without having to pay anyone for the images. Whenever they publish a story which relates in some way or other to “water” (the topic in this week’s magazine), rather than shelling out for a stock photo or asking one of their own photographers to go out and shoot something, they merely dip into the stack of probably hundreds, if not thousands, of pictures which the public have generously sent in. If another newspaper or magazine is running a story on water, they can just call the Guardian and get one of these photos on the cheap, as no royalties ever need to be passed back to the original photographer.
The long-term implication is that there will be less use of stock image libraries, newspapers will need less photographers on their staff, and anyone who does this kind of thing for a living is likely to find themselves out of a job or scraping by on even less income than at present.
For a newspaper which has publicly declared itself a champion of photography, this seems a very cynical move to say the least.
Far more normal in a photo competition of this sort is a clause which allows unlimited use (rather than full copyright) of any winning photos (rather than all entries) for reproduction only in materials related to the competition (rather than anywhere and everywhere).