View Full Version : A Word on Photo Contests

Chris J
09-29-2007, 10:18 PM
Just wanted to share some info with you guys about photo contests. Several years ago, I used to enter these photo contests which are usually promoted by manufacturers. I won a few of them, and I have to say it is very exciting and a great ego boost. For some, it is also a great incentive to work harder and to sell bigger and better jobs in an effort to get those great photos for the next contest.
Today, one of my employees was at the fairgrounds where he saw a relative new-comer to the landscape lighting business: a landscaper who had branched off into lighting as well. His truck and trailer was parked there, all dressed up with the latest graphics and "wraps" just like my vehicles are. What caught his attention was the giant picture of the home on the side of the trailer. It was the same home that is on the home page of my web-site.
Now, before I go laying blame I want to make it perfectly clear that I haven't gotten to the bottom of this yet. However, it should be known that whenever you enter a photo contest your photo then becomes the property of whatever organization that is putting on that contest. In my situation, I believe that this new comer was in need of some marketing materials so he contacted the manufacturer and the manufacturer gladly obliged.
I knew this going into the contest, but I was assured that no one from my area would be receiving these photos. I really have no problem if someone far far away uses my work, but this guy is in my front yard and is advertising my home page of my web site for crying out loud!
I guess I was naive to think that this would not happen, but let this be a warning to those of you who like to enter these contests. You are giving up your rights to your work. Do you really want to do that? As I said, you will get a short term sense of accomplishment and some bragging rights for a while, but in the end your work will become public property and you will have nothing to say about it. What's worse than that? Even if you don't win, they still own your photos! :nono:

09-29-2007, 10:35 PM
hehe sucks but look at the bright side, you can tell potential clients that your work is sooooo good that your competitors use your photos for advertisements

Chris J
09-29-2007, 10:51 PM
Naa, I'm thinking I'll drown him in attorney's fee's and court costs to fight me about it. That's assuming he wants a fight. I'm hoping that he will just take it off his truck/trailer and redo it with something else. Hell, I'll even help him pay for it. It's not entirely his fault (I don't think). I truly believe he was just trying to get started, and the manufacturer didn't pay attention to what photos they were sending to him. How could they possibly keep track of where all their photos came from? Sooner or later, this was bound to happen. I'll just be patient, and let him make the next move. I've sent my letter to him.

09-29-2007, 11:09 PM
That sucks Chris, sorry you have to go through that. Do They let you watermark or logo your photos so that they can't be copied? Or I wonder if when sending photos to a manufacturer they would have to sign an agreement to use the photos only in their own print material.

David Gretzmier
09-30-2007, 01:27 AM
I used a photo of my own work for the graphics on my new truck for landscape lighting, but the truck would've looked better with a pro shot like the photo's you guys use. I felt obligated to use my own work. It looks ok.

One of our Christmas vehicles however has a home we did not do, It is in the city of Omaha, Nebraska. the photo's of Christmas lights I've taken in the past just were not acceptable to put on the truck. I can duplicate the house on the vehicle, so I don't feel too bad, and I use corporate literature to show off product as well. I just can't take very good night pictures, even with my newest camera.

but If someone else used a picture of a job I did on thier truck and they were a competitor in my market, I'd be pretty hot.

Chris J
09-30-2007, 02:14 PM
That sucks Chris, sorry you have to go through that. Do They let you watermark or logo your photos so that they can't be copied? Or I wonder if when sending photos to a manufacturer they would have to sign an agreement to use the photos only in their own print material.

Actually, when you enter into these contests you are the one who is signing off on the release forms, not them.

09-30-2007, 05:29 PM
I would think there should still be some limitations to what they can do with your work in regards to your direct competition, and specifically your situation. That is a good way for a manufacturer to lose a contractor.

pete scalia
09-30-2007, 06:57 PM
All the photos posted on this site are ripe for the picking. I would imagine there are some unethical and unscrupulous operators who have already established a portfolio from others work on here. Can you imagine all of the money they are making from the fruits of your labor. You can only hope karma kicks in and what goes round comes round.

09-30-2007, 07:05 PM
From a legal standpoint, you may still have a copyright claim on the photo.

The disclaimer you signed when entering the contest was probably one that simply allowed the contest to publish your photo without legal recourse from you due to copyright law. However, this doesn't strip you of your legal copyright claim to the photo.

Usually the only case in which a photographer's photos aren't covered under copyright law is when the photo is taken while performing normal employee duties for one's employer, such as a staff photographer.

Also, most disclaimers for contests that I've read are simply asking for permission to reproduce the photo or display it, not completely take possession of the copyright, because most photographers would tell people to go pound salt if asked to give up their copyright on their work.

I'll keep researching it...

However, any business owner that doesn't either use his own work or make 100% sure that the photo is copyright-free is one who is lacking integrity in my opinion, and this dude should be treated as such.

09-30-2007, 07:09 PM
Here's an example of a normal photo contest disclaimer:

You also release, discharge, indemnify and agree to hold harmless Minnesota Environmental Fund, its directors, officers, and employees from all other claims, demands, damages, causes of action, losses, liabilities, injuries or obligations, direct or indirect, known or unknown of any kind, nature or description whatever which you or your heirs, executors, successors or assigns may have or claim to have against Minnesota Environmental Fund, its directors, officers, and employees arising out of participation in or acceptance of any prize in connection with the contest, including any future use of the photographs.

As you can see, when speaking of "any future use", this actually means future use by the contest for NON COMMERCIAL purposes. :hammerhead:

This dude is obviously using the photo for commercial purposes, and the courts would see it this way I believe.

I'd be on the phone with an attorney first thing Monday morning.

My guess is the guy ain't gonna be too happy to split with the wrap...they aren't exactly cheap! So you might want to be ready for that. :weightlifter:

Do you have a copy of the contest rules and legal disclosures for the culprit that gave it away?

Also, how do you know this ******bag didn't just get on your site and do a quick copy and paste onto a disk and take it to the sign shop?

Keep us posted Chris!

Chris J
09-30-2007, 10:02 PM
Well, thanks for all the great info guys but it was actually a false alarm. The guy sent me an email today, with pictures, and it is not my work. The photo looks suprisingly similar to one of my customer's homes, but not the same. Even though this was a "near miss" I still believe that it will happen one day. I just hope that the majority of the contractors out there will elevate themselves to a standard which will prohibit them from using another's work to promote their business. To me, this is just tacky.

10-01-2007, 08:53 AM
Probably happens all the time. So many homes look the same these a day anyway.

10-01-2007, 09:56 AM
:laugh: well that certainly makes things easier. at least i got some education on the issue! glad to hear the news chris.

10-01-2007, 02:46 PM
Well I suppose you are waiting for my manufacturers reply. Unique runs a Photo Contest that I push heavily but I could not agree more with Chris here. You should all protect your photos. Water mark or some sort of identifying mark to know it is your photo. We have a form for the contractor submitting the photo to sign and assign what we can use the photo for. Some will say we cannot use it for anything and we don't, others let us use them for just about anything we want including marketing materials. BUT they all agree on what it is we can use it for. We are very protective over our photos and do not give them out to other contractors to use for anything. I do use photos here and there on forums like this and all of these photos have been OK'd by the installer for me to use in any fashion I deem necessary. I can only hope some guy isn't d-loading them then having them printed but it is hard to protect against that unless you mark them. Even then they can photo shop them. But please do not less this discourage you from the benefits of a photo contest. I can assure you Unique will protect your photos!!

http://www.uniquelighting.com/photos/Photo Contest.pdf

Chris it wasn't us that dropped the ball I hope......??????????

Chris J
10-01-2007, 09:52 PM
No Joey, I wasn't talking about you guys. I'm grateful for your post, however, as it is refreshing to know that you do ask your contractors what they will allow the photos to be used for. As long as measures like this are taken, I don't see any reason why someone would not participate in a contest. It is the type of contest in which you give away all of your rights that I have a problem with.

10-02-2007, 10:26 AM
Thanks Chris!