You might have seen that there are a lot more photo competitions being listed on the PrizeFinder lately. Lots more promoters are running them and find them a great way to get their fans involved with their Facebook pages and have a bit of fun at the same time.
But how often do you read the terms and conditions before you enter? Many promoters are using over-the-top rules which go beyond what's practically or legally necessary, and often these terms will be hidden in the small print and, although professional photographers would immediately spot them, they generally go unnoticed by compers.
Here are a few examples from photo competitions currently running:
The current KidStart photo competition terms and conditions state:
By entering a competition, you agree to grant to KidStart, free of charge, permission to use any material you provide in any way it wants (including modifying and adapting it for operational and editorial reasons).
So, upload a photo of your baby and Kidstart could use it on their website or Facebook page - even if you don't win a prize!
Sainsbury's are giving away three £100 vouchers every week, as well as £100 of goodies to the overall winner in their Summer themed photo competition.
But read the terms carefully - all entrants agree that Sainsbury's may:
(i) showcase their photos on Sainsbury's website and any other media in connection with the prize draw and use their names, likenesses, photographs and/or biographical information (as it appears on Facebook) and Facebook for advertising, publicity and promotional purposes without additional compensation.
For this competition you may well decide to upload a treasured family photo. But think carefully - consider that your kids may well be in these photos, and could even end up on a Sainsbury's billboard or in Tesco magazine without your knowledge - again, even if you're not a winner!
Tesco are also giving away vouchers - three winners in their 'edible sports' photo competition get a £50 voucher. But again, by entering your photo into the competition, you're agreeing to these terms:
Winners agree to their names and photographs being used for promotional purposes. Copyright in all material submitted as entries rests with the promoter.
That means that if you win, you're transferring copyright of your photo to Tesco, who can use it as they see fit! And you wouldn't be able to use the photo yourself because Tesco now own the copyright... in this case, as it's a bit of a silly theme, your photo is likely to be a one-off and you probably wouldn't want to use it again for competitions - but nonetheless it's a risk you might not want to take.
For big companies like Tesco and Sainsbury's, this is actually a cheap and cheeky way of building up their own free photo library with thousands of shots, which they can use any time they like. It's much cheaper than licensing stock photography, as all it costs them is a couple of prizes, and it does seem like these big companies are taking advantage of our ignorance!
Our advice is to always read the rules carefully before entering a photo competition - if you're not comfortable with the 'rights-grabbing' aspect of them, then don't enter!
One competition where you can be assured we won't be taking copyright of your photograph is our Winners Story prize draw - although your photo will definitely be featured here on our website and on our Facebook page! If you want to enter, just upload a photo of you or your wins and a short story before 31st August - one winner picked at random each month gets a £50 shopping voucher!