Sierra Trading Post’s Photo Contest is No Bargain

Sierra Trading Post (STP) is a great place to pick up some bargains on outdoor goods. While you have the chance to win a $200 STP Gift Card from its photo contest, just by entering means that you may get less than you bargained for.

Specifically, when you enter STP’s photo contest, you agree to the Terms and Conditions, which state in part (emphasis added):

ENTRANT’S GRANT OF RIGHTS: By participating in the Promotion, each entrant irrevocably grants Sponsor and its agents and successors and assigns a non-exclusive, unlimited, worldwide, perpetual, royalty free, transferable license and right (but not the obligation) to reproduce, publicly perform, distribute, exploit, publicly display, and otherwise use the Submission in any way, for any reason, and in any and all media (including but not limited to the Contest Site), without limitation, and without further notice, consent or consideration to the entrant. Without in any way limiting the foregoing, Sponsor shall have the right, in its sole discretion, to modify and make derivative works of the Submission for any purpose which Sponsor deems necessary or desirable, and each entrant irrevocably waives any and all so-called moral rights they may have therein. Sponsor shall have the right to freely sublicense its rights hereunder, in whole or in part, to any person or entity. Sponsor shall retain the rights granted in each Submission even if the Submission is disqualified or fails to meet the Submission Requirements.

There’s not much that STP can’t do with your photo submission. At least you keep you copyright and you’re not restricted with using it. Just seems that STP is getting the benefit of the bargain here!

Hat tip to Mike Calabro.

Check Photo Attorney on, in the Article Center, and on Twitter!

YIKES! Photos Go Into Public Domain for Entering Photo Contest

Copyright Carolyn E Wright

The Tahoe National Forest is a beautiful area of the world, so it’s natural for photographers to document it. The Tahoe National Forest Service (“TNFS”) is looking to capitalize on that desire by running a photo contest to use the “best Tahoe National Forest photos to feature on our website and other publications.”

Unfortunately, the TNFS rules state:

Every photo entry received as part of the contest becomes property of the Tahoe National Forest and will be considered as public domain to prevent copyright infringement. The forest will have non-exclusive, unlimited use of the photo(s).

But this doesn’t make sense. The TNFS can’t own a photo and it be considered public domain. Either way, the photographers who submit their photos to the contest lose, unless you want to give the TNFS (and other federal agencies, forest partners, and media) the right:

to reproduce, prepare derivative works of, distribute or display and use these materials in whole or in part, for government and non-government purposes, in any manner or media (whether now existing or created in the future), in perpetuity, and in all languages throughout the world. Use of this material shall include, but not be limited to, audiovisual programs, museum exhibits, websites, publications, product artwork, and project publicity.

And you give TNFS these rights without any guarantee of credit (unless you earn 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place) and payment. Otherwise, stay far away from this rights grab.

Check Photo Attorney on, in the Article Center, and on Twitter!

No Love Lost – More Photo Contests with Rights Grabs?

AdoramaPix isn’t happy about our prior blog post, arguing that its “Best Friends Forever” Instagram contest is not a rights grab because “NOTHING here requests a participant to submit a photo.” We disagree, because entering the contest likely constitutes a submission. Regardless of who is correct, this doesn’t change the fact that AdoramaPix’s 2016 contest rules take a broad license for submissions to their photo contests.

We have been writing here about rights grabs for a long time because photographers should we aware of contest rules before entering them. We want contest holders to revise their rules when the license taken is too broad. It’s happened before.

An AdoramaPix representative identified other photo contests rules claimed to use the same broad language as AdoramaPix’s (but there are significant differences):


By submitting your Artwork, you grant B&H a non-exclusive, royalty free, worldwide license to use, display, download, reproduce, copy, distribute, post, publish and prepare derivative works of the Artwork in any and all of its mediums. You acknowledge and agree that you are not entitled to any monetary compensation and that your sole compensation is the display and dissemination of the Artwork. B&H reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to decide how, or if, to use the Artwork, to use all, part, or none of the Artwork, and to select the winning Artwork.

Notably, B&H includes the rules on the same webpage just below where you enter.

National Geographic (2014 contest):

By entering the Contest, all entrants grant an irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide non-exclusive license to Authorized Parties, to reproduce, distribute, display and create derivative works of the entries (along with a name credit) in connection with the Contest and promotion of the Contest, in any media now or hereafter known, including, but not limited to: Display at a potential exhibition of winners; publication of a book featuring select entries in the Contest; publication in National Geographic magazine or online highlighting entries or winners of the Contest. Entrants consent to the Sponsor doing or omitting to do any act that would otherwise infringe the entrant’s “moral rights” in their entries. Display or publication of any entry on an Authorized Party’s website does not indicate the entrant will be selected as a winner. Authorized Parties will not be required to pay any additional consideration or seek any additional approval in connection with such use.

But Nat Geo limits the licensed uses to those “in connection with the Contest and promotion of the Contest.”

Photographers retain copyright on any photo they submit to the Contest. Apex Publications Inc. reserves non-exclusive publication rights of winning images in its magazines (including covers) and electronic medias as well as for possible use in future promotional material of the Contest, including other types of publications and advertising material. All photos will be credited to the photographer.

Significantly, Photolife limits the license to only winning images for “use in future promotional material of the Contest.”

The takeaway? Read the fine print before entering your print.

Check Photo Attorney on, in the Article Center, and on Twitter!

Not Feeling the Love – Photo Contest Takes Broad License

Adoramapix contest

AdoramaPix is holding a “Best Friends Forever” Instagram contest to “celebrate the love of friendship.” Buried in the email campaign is a note: “Please remember AdoramaPix’s 2016 contest rules and regulations apply.” But where are the rules? They can’t be found by any link from the email. They can’t be found from AdoramaPix‘s home page. Instead, the rules are posted in the AdoramaPix‘s blog. There, they state in part:

19. Copyright: By entering the Contest, Photographer will retain all rights to photograph he/she submits. By entering photography contests, photographer hereby grants Adoramapix (sponsor) (1) a nonexclusive, unconditional, unrestricted, worldwide, irrevocable ,royalty-free license to reproduce, reformat, adapt, creative derivative works, distribute, transmit, display, make available and perform the photographs photographer submits to Adoramapix (sponsor) in and/or through any and all medium or media, now known or hereinafter developed or discovered . . . . Sponsors’ use of the submissions may include without limitation, advertising, promotion and marketing for this year and subsequent years. Authorized Parties will not be required to pay any additional consideration or seek any additional approval in connection with such use. 

Such a broad license is extreme for just submitting your photo to any AdoramaPix 2016 contest. But, hey. You may win a photo book or some other big prize (sarcasm intended).

Thanks to Dan Carmichael for submitting this topic.

Check Photo Attorney on, in the Article Center, and on Twitter!

Prime Rights Grab

One of my happiest moments: petting gray whales in Magdalena Bay

One of my happiest moments: petting gray whales in Magdalena Bay

Along with Amazon’s Prime Day, “a one-day shopping event on July 15, 2015, with more deals than Black Friday,” Amazon is hosting a “PrimeLiving Photo Contest.” Amazon invites you to “choose or take a photo of your happiest moment” and to “choose your best photo” to enter. You will have a chance to win $10,000
in Amazon Gift Cards.

Unfortunately, just by submitting your photo, you agree to:

grant[] to Sponsor the non-exclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, and fully sublicensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, and display the Photo throughout the world in any media, to the extent permitted by applicable law.


Sponsor’s use of the entrant’s name, likeness, photograph or image, whether in writing, audio, and/or video, for any purpose, in any media, without compensation or additional consideration to entrant.

It gets worse. If you win, you have to transfer the copyright to your photo to Amazon:

[W]inners will be required to sign and return a “Transfer of Copyright” form as requested by Sponsor. Winners hereby acknowledges and understands that under such Transfer of Copyright form, he/she will be assigning exclusively, irrevocably, and in perpetuity, and on a royalty-free basis to Sponsor (or to Sponsor’s affiliates) all copyright ownership and all other proprietary rights in and to his/her Photo, such that Sponsor (and its affiliates) will have the unrestricted right to edit the Photo in any manner and to use (or not use) the Photo for any and all purposes whatsoever (including, without limitation, the creation of derivative works, and/or any and all other forms of commercial or non-commercial exploitation), regardless of whether or not related to the Contest.

This contest’s rules just might ruin your “happiest moment.”

Check Photo Attorney on, in the Article Center, and on Twitter!

Musician’s Photo Release is a Rights Grab

Trainor Release

Meghan Trainor, the popular singer of “All About That Bass,” and her management company, Atom Factory Music, LLC, reportedly are making photographers and videographers sign a Release to get a photo credential at Trainor’s concerts.

The Release restricts your taking photos to the first three songs and video recording to the first 90 seconds of the first three songs of the performance. “Photographs” and “Videos” are defined as all of your shots or video taken during that time.

Unfortunately, by signing the Release, you exclusively give Trainor the copyrights to your Photographs and Videos and are not entitled to any payments, regardless of how Trainor may later use your Photographs or Videos. At least Trainor and Atom Factory grant you a license to use the Photographs and Videos for the publication or network that initially requested your photo credential. You must get Atom Factory’s approval for any other uses of the Photographs or Videos.

The lesson? Read before you sign. If you sign, abide by the terms of the agreement. If you don’t agree to the terms, then don’t sign. Walk away and spend your time and talents on better things.

Check Photo Attorney on, in the Article Center, and on Twitter!

Share the Experience = Share your Photos = Rights Grab!

Blue Footed Booby - Clean Ear - Copyright Carolyn E. Wright

The Share the Experience Photo Contest is a partnership between participating federal recreation land agencies and national parks, the National Park Foundation and corporate sponsors. Unfortunately, when you share your photos to enter the contest, you’re giving up maybe more than you realize.

Specifically, the Rules provide, in pertinent part:

By entering, entrants . . . grant a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual license to the Sponsor and Administrator to edit, adapt, make derivative works from, broadcast, publish and otherwise use any or all of the descriptions and/or photograph(s) submitted, and may use them for advertising, promotional and/or any other purpose in any and all media now or hereafter devised worldwide in perpetuity without additional compensation, notification or permission, unless prohibited by law. . . . Credits, descriptions or titles, if any, used with the photograph(s) are in the Sponsor’s and Administrator’s sole discretion.

That may be just a little too much sharing.

Check Photo Attorney on, in the Article Center, and on Twitter!

SL-Easy Canvas Prints RIGHTS GRAB!

Napa Sunrise-Copyright Carolyn E. Wright

Easy Canvas Prints is trying to pull a fast one on photographers. Its terms of service states:

4. Use of Your Content.

You do not lose ownership of the Content that you design on, or upload to, the Web Site. By uploading Designs to the Web Site or creating Designs with EASY CANVAS PRINTS™’s design tools, however, you grant the following licenses to EASY CANVAS PRINTS™: the nonexclusive, worldwide, transferable, sublicensable right to copy, crop, reproduce, publicly display, sell, and distribute the Design in or on Products and in advertising, marketing, samples, and promotional materials for the purpose of promoting the Web Site and Products; and the right to make modifications to your Design as EASY CANVAS PRINTS™, in its sole discretion, finds necessary to achieve the above listed purposes...”

Astute Photographer, Dan Carmichael, read these terms and asked the company:

In your TOS you state you may use the image on your products. I do not see products other than canvas prints on your website. 1. what type of products could the image be used on? 2. Are you associated with any other business / venture / entity that produces “products”? If so, who are they?

And he got this astonishing reply:

I am happy to assist you with this! Our main website is actually We print signs, banners, decals etc. We also have two other sites which are and which are our shirts and home decor.

While the terms might not allow for your photos to be used for the other websites, they specifically state that Easy Canvas Prints can use your content for other items:


EASY CANVAS PRINTS™ provides a number of Internet-based services through the Web Site (all such services, collectively, the “™ Service”). One such service enables users to create customized merchandise, signs, magnetics, bumper stickers, and banners (collectively, “Products”).

Looks pretty sleazy to me.

HT: Dan Carmichael

Check Photo Attorney on, in the Article Center, and on Twitter!

Travel as Far Away as You Can from this Rights Grab

Alaska Valley - Copyright Carolyn E. Wright

The Travel Channel is hosting a Photo Contest where, just by submitting an entry, you transfer the copyright to your photo to Scripps Networks, LLC. The operative language is here [with our comments in brackets and our bolding]:

7. Ownership of Submissions: By submitting a Submission [defined as “(1) high-resolution, digital color photograph (the “Photo”)], Entrant acknowledges and agrees that: (a) Sponsor [defined as Scripps Networks, LLC] is the sole and exclusive owner, in perpetuity and throughout the world, of all right, title, and interest in and to the Submission, including, without limitation, all copyright, trademark, and other proprietary rights in and to the Submission (and all renewals and extensions thereof now or hereafter provided by law) and all the rights therein and thereto; (b) ownership of the Submission shall inure to the benefit of Sponsor from the date of conception, of creation, or of fixation in a tangible medium of expression (whichever occurs first), of such Submission [from the time you took the photo!]; (c) Entrant’s Submission is a “work made for hire” (as that term is used in the United States Copyright Act of 1976, as amended); (d) to the extent that Entrant’s Submission is not a work made for hire, Entrant hereby assigns to Sponsor all right, title, and interest in and to the Submission and all copies thereof that Entrant may have or obtain without any further consideration, free from any claim, lien, balance due, or rights of retention thereto; (e) Entrant waives all claims to any and all moral rights in the Submission including, without limitation, Entrant’s right of attribution and integrity; and (f) Sponsor may exploit the Submission (and all rights therein) in any manner throughout the world without restriction of any kind, or payment to, or consent from, anyone. Sponsor reserves the right to modify or edit the winning Submission for content including all copyrights and trademarks, and Promotion Entities or their assigned agent(s) will have the right to reproduce, publish, adapt, modify and/or revise the Submission, in its sole discretion, in any manner or form throughout the world, in perpetuity. Sponsor will own all rights to the winning Submission.

WOW!  Scripps works it in every way possible to make sure that it grabs your rights.

Likewise, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals recently confirmed that an electronic agreement is sufficient to satisfy the intent and writing requirements of 17 USC 204 for copyright transfers:

The issue we must yet resolve is whether a subscriber, who “clicks yes” in response to MRIS’s electronic TOU prior to uploading copyrighted photographs, has signed a written transfer of the exclusive rights of copyright ownership in those photographs consistent with Section 204(a). Although the Copyright Act itself does not contain a definition of a writing or a signature, much less address our specific inquiry, Congress has provided clear guidance on this point elsewhere, in the E- Sign Act.

. . .

We find this analysis helpful in reaching the same conclusion in the context of the Copyright Act. To invalidate copyright transfer agreements solely because they were made electronically would thwart the clear congressional intent embodied in the E-Sign Act. We therefore hold that an electronic agreement may effect a valid transfer of copyright interests under Section 204 of the Copyright Act.

This issue also is important to real estate photographers. A Maryland federal court recently addressed this issue as applied to a MLS. The court held that the copyright transfers were valid when agreed to in the MLS’s Terms of Use of its website.

In sum, be very, very careful when uploading your photos to websites!

— HT to Tom Schwabel for submitting the Travel Channel Photo Contest Rights Grab

Check Photo Attorney on, in the Article Center, and on Twitter!

Photo Contest Warning!

This Alert is reproduced here with permission from NANPA:

ASMP (American Society of Media Photographers), joined by NANPA, APA (American Photographic Artists), and NPPA (National Press Photographers Association), is concerned about the terms and conditions of a contest announced by Vogue, a Conde Nast publication, entitled the New Exposure Photography Competition, Presented by Bottega Veneta.  This contest, which is targeted at students and emerging photographers, appears to be an effort to secure thousands of free images for unlimited use in publications and in advertising.  For this reason, we believe this contest exploits photographers, and we strongly caution everyone to carefully review and understand all the terms and conditions along with the rights they are surrendering before entering any competition.

The core problems we see are that:

  • The sponsors have the perpetual, unlimited use of all contest entries.
  • There is neither compensation for contest participants nor is there credit given for their work.
  • Participants are required to sign a liability release and copyright assignment, and to indemnify Bottega Veneta and Conde Nast against any lawsuits that may arise as a result of the usage of the photographs.
  • Every entrant is required to waive any right to sue in the event of misuse of the photographs entered.
  • The winner is being offered $10,000 for a shoot which would normally command several times that amount.  The winner will be required to grant copyright ownership of all photographs from the shoot.

We believe that while competitions can serve a purpose within your business plan and give your work significant visibility, there are a number of issues to consider before you enter.  Be sure to read the terms and conditions for any conditions.

Check Photo Attorney on, in the Article Center, and on Twitter!
1 2 3 7