Tuesday, May 08, 2007

No Contest!

I've never been keen on entering contests, probably because I don't like losing. That said, I've entered contests in the past, but given the number of opportunities I've had I can accurately claim that I've entered less than 1/10 of one percent of the contests available to me. I've only entered two contests, and I won both times, my track record's great in that regard... but they weren't very important in the general scheme of things.

Okay, okay, I can see you're chomping at the bit waiting to learn which competitions I've won. My first (picture at right), a self-portrait, won the Tappress Photo Contest in the spring of 1970. I guess, actually, this was a very important competition. Tappress was the monthly newspaper of Tappan Zee High School and there were just a few photographers among the students there, and we were all vying for two coveted positions: photo editor of Tappress, the school newspaper; and, photo editor of Half Moon, the school yearbook. In the end, I attained neither of those posts, a very big disappointment at the time, but I beat the pack: Richard Berner, Don Bookman & Mark Kalan, maybe a few others as well. God knows where these guys are today, but they're not photographers. (Actually, I know where Mark is, he and I have remained friends... he's just getting back into photography after twenty years editing and publishing a motorcycle magazine.)

The other contest I've won (picture at left), Maplewood Moments, sponsored by the Maplewood Civic Association, I entered only because I didn't like their rules: the entry form stated that all entries become the property of Maplewood Civic Association. I couldn't live with that so I entered solely to deny them the rights to my images. I guess it was the ultimate in arrogance, assuming I'd win. What? Maplewood is lousy with photographers, there are a number of top-notch professionals who live here (we're all friends), and it was surely absurd to think I would win, but think that I did.

I'd crossed out the line that gave ownership to the civic association, initialed it and enetered the contest with three images. Thought I'd wasted the fifteen dollars in entry fees, I'd never win having black-lined the the entry form the way I did, but it was worth the fifteen bucks to make my point. I was just totally surprised to return from a movie one Friday night to find a message in my voice mail from Dennis Donahue, president of the MCA, telling me I'd won and, "it's okay, you can retain your rights, we don't need to own your picture." I won!

I'd like to enter another contest: Microsoft is sponsoring a "Future Pro Photographer" contest. I'm not going to enter, it's only open to students, but I would encourage anyone considering this contest to read the fine print in the official rules, especially Rule #5.....

"5. ENTRIES PROPERTY OF SPONSOR. All Entries become the property of Sponsor and Administrators and will not be returned. By submitting your Entry, you grant Sponsor and Administrators an irrevocable royalty-free, worldwide right, in all media (now known or later developed) to use, publish, alter or otherwise exploit your Entry. You hereby forever release the Sponsor and Administrators from any and all claims you might have in connection with their use and exhibit of your Entry as set forth above. You also agree to sign any necessary documentation to effectuate that license and release. If you do not want to grant Sponsor and Administrators the foregoing, please do not enter the Contest. Sponsor and Administrators are not obligated to use the Entry, even if it has been selected as a Winning entry."

While this seems to be a standard clause in contests, I find it particularly egregious coming from Microsoft. Why?

Perhaps there's no other entity, save Disney, that's more protective of its intellectual property than Microsoft. Further, Microsoft's chairman, Bill Gates, is also the owner of Corbis Corporation, one of the largest picture archives in the world, and Corbis knows the value of photography very, very well. How could the sponsors claim to be fostering the careers of emerging photographers and, in the next breath, strip these naifs of their rights in their own images?

Even worse, this contest is co-sponsored by PPA (Professional Photographers of America) and Canon, among others. It blows my mind! It's worth a letter or two, mine are already in the mail.
Top: Self-portrait 1970 - Asahi Pentax H3v, 55/1.4 Mamiya-Sekor lens, Kodak Tri-X Pan
Bottom: JP0988 The Ridgewood Patriot - Canon EOS-1N, 300/4.0 Canon EF-L lens, Fujichrome Velvia


Blogger GothamTomato said...

Wow! That clause IS mindblowing! I'd be interested in seeing someone (like a rep from ASMP) call the company and asking them to explain that.

This, seems to me, to be just a way to build a royaty free collection. This is something students (and even just hobbyists) need to be educated about.

2:24 PM  
Blogger GothamTomato said...

I'm curious as to what you think about the 'terms & conditions' for this photo contest:


On the surface it seems better. But is it?

5:49 PM  

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