Friday, August 26, 2011

Beware! MTDC Photo Competition is Extortion!

Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) has organised a photography competition for August 2011. Here is what I found in the document that details the `Rules' for the competition:

All photos submitted in this competition will become sole property of MTDC. MTDC reserves the right to use the photograph on their official web site or any printing material published by MTDC in any format.

Interestingly; this particular rule is not to be found on their website. In fact; there is no mention whatsoever of the copyright or ownership of the photos submitted on that page. Luckily; Googling for `MTDC Competition' brings up the PDF document that I've linked above; as the first result.

There is also a discrepancy in the prize money mentioned in the PDF and on the website. But that is a minor issue.

I'm no legal expert; but I can clearly see the following facts:
  • Since all the rights are to be handed to MTDC, they're essentially buying out all the photos submitted to the competition. Note, submitted and not just the prize winners. In essence, non-winners will be handing their work to MTDC for free! The winners will have to contend with a sum of a maximum of Rs. 51ooo/-.
  • Since this is not just licensing, but full ownership of the photos, MTDC can effectively use them anywhere, in any format with no need to even attribute the photo to its creator.
  • It could also mean that MTDC will be able to sell these photos as their own any time, anywhere and in any format. None of this will ever reach the creator - forget money, not even the attribution or credits.
  • A very very twisted scenario presents itself as follows. MTDC could simply refute to announce the winners. Quoting the PDF document, "MTDC management reserves all rights to select or reject any photographs. Decision of MTDC will be final with respect to this competition and will be binding for all." They could just walk away with all the photos submitted, without even the need to give the prizes away.
Not surprisingly, only (decently) high resolution images are being accepted:

Each photograph should not be more than 5 MB

The PDF document even goes to mention the following (arguably laughable) points:

Photos captured by mobile cameras will not be entertained.
Photos captured through Digital/Professional Cameras will only be accepted.

It could just be me, but the tone of the word `entertained' could be considered derogatory to such work. Anyway, that is beside the point.

As such, seeing as though all this information is `hidden' in the PDF, most photographers submitting their work for the competition will likely be unaware of the above issues. I hope this post will serve to educate such photographers, now and in the future, to first and foremost understand the legalities involved in publishing their work in any way. So please, spread the word.

On a side note, compare the above `rules' with the following on Steve Huff's Daily Inspiration page:
  • Image can be taken with ANY camera make or model. Film or digital.
  • You will have all rights and ownership to your image. I will simply be posting it here for all to enjoy and be inspired by!
  • You will receive no compensation, no prizes or anything tangible. Just a link to your gallery/portfolio if you have one.
  • The image will remain in the blog archives forever providing you exposure every time the image and your link is viewed!
Which one seems more `profitable' to you?

1 comment:

J said...

Good work !!