Legal Photography Theft with Photo Contests, Social Websites, and other Sites


Photograph by Daniel Hancock

Most people don't like their work being stolen. However, in photography, people quite often give people permission to "steal" their photography. How? They submit their photographs in photo contests and other websites. When you submit photos to these places, quite often, they mention in the Terms of Service that when you submit your photography, you are basically giving them the photograph. Understanding their Terms of Service (TOS) When submitting your photographs anywhere, make sure you know how they will be using your photographs. Most likely, they'll have this information in their TOS. However, if you can't find this information, you may not want to submit your photographs. They may steal them or sell them! An explanation of some of the common terms used in Terms of Service is below. 1 . By submitting you photograph, you grant us (the business or website you are submitting them to) exclusive rights to your photography This means they want to be the only ones who own your photograph. Personally, I like to keep the rights for my photographs, so I avoid things like this. 2. By submitting you photography, you give us a perpetual, worldwide, royalty free license to use your photograph Ekk... Another one to stay away from. This means that they can do whatever they want with your photograph, including reproducing or selling it. No limits! 3. Copyright remains to the photographer This one is a thumbs up. It means that you still own the copyright. If you see this, you still might want to continue reading to see what rights they do take or how they will use your image (e.g. selling it for a limited amount of time). Photo Contests Photo contests are some of the biggest offenders in "legal photography theft." Quite often, they keep exclusive rights for your photograph. Unless they say something like "copyright is kept by the photographer," steer clear! Some photo contests may mention that they support the Artists Bill or Rights. With this, you should be okay to submit your photography. However, you might want to read it first. You can read it at Social Websites Many social websites take the rights for your image. Quite often, other people also will take your images from those social websites. So, how do you protect your photographs but still use social websites? First of all, limit the social websites that you submit photographs to. Some have better TOS then others. Secondly, don't submit your originals. I normally add a watermark and shrink my images before posting them on the internet. Additional Links For more reading on protecting your photographs, check out the following links. How I evaluate Terms of Service for Social Media Websites - By Jim Goldstein Copyrights: Protecting my Photography - by Jim Goldstein How the Rights to Your Photo are Being Hijacked Through Photo Contests and Social Media - by Jim Goldstein Copyright FAQ - by the US Government TinEye - Find Copies of Your Images that are Online Protecting you Copyright - Professional Photographers of America

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