Medway Council 2010 calendar competition | Rights Grabbing Raid

Medway Council are running a photography competition.  Obvious perhaps but the theme is Medway. They are looking for pictures that will showcase the best views of Medway to include in the first ever Medway calendar to be produced by the Council.  The judging panel will select pictures that are, ‘…the most visually appealing, original and self-explanatory for use on a Medway calendar’.

There is a prize for what they deem to be the best photo – a £250.00 voucher to spend in a local camera shop. The winning entry will feature on the cover of the calendar and get ten copies of the calendar for *free*. Runners up i.e. 12 additional pictures, one for each month, will receive five *free* copies of the calendar.

So the runners up prize is a bit naff and the Council have obviously entered into some kind of publicity deal with whatever photography shop the voucher comes from but never mind that. What a great opportunity I thought. I’ve got loads of pictures of the best views of Medway right through the year. Some of them could have been in with a chance. No point in any false modesty here!

Thought I best check out the term and conditions first. I’d hate to haplessly become an unwitting ambassador for the Council in the event any of my entries were chosen. Glad I did. The competition is a rights grabbing raid

6. Copyright in all images submitted for this competition remains with the respective entrants. However, in consideration of their providing the competition, each entrant grants a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual licence to Medway Council to feature any or all of the submitted images in any of their publications, their websites and/or in any promotional material connected to this competition. All such usage will be credited to the named entrant.

Essentially this means the competition is no more than a cheapskate way for the Council to get itself a stock of images to use in any way it likes, for as long as it likes, whenever it likes, for any purpose it chooses. For free.

To be fair to the Council they are not the first to include such terms in a photography competition. It’s a ploy used by many many companies and organisations that really should know better. Needless to say I won’t be entering.

I’ve submitted the details of the competition to the Bill of Rights for Photography Contests campaign. They will invite the Council to reconsider the terms. If the Council does amend the T&C and bring them in line with the Bill of Rights For Photography Competitions they will be added to the Rights On list and will be promoted on Bill of Rights Supporters page. If the Council decline to amend the T&C or just ignore the invite they will be included on the Rights Off List. You can read more about the campaign here.

I hope the Council does the right thing; amend the T&C, show some respect to local photographers and demonstrate support for the Bill of Rights. We shall see.

22/05/2009 Update – The Council’s group for the competition on Flickr has been deleted.  Looks like they broke Flickr’s TOS.

5 Comments

  1. There are a lot of elements to this, and I could comment at length here, but I’ll try to be concise.

    I concur with everything you have said, but there is something that really troubles me. Medway Council has some excellent people in its Arts team, and indeed in many of its departments. Dealing with, for example, the Brook Theatre team, several times over, has been a genuine pleasure and a privilege. That’s a team that really knows its local artists and just delivers quality stuff time and time again.

    So why is it then, that this recent rights grab has made Medway Council look like a flange of baboons?

    Perhaps its this: The bunch that just called us “budding snappers” to our faces whilst trying to sneak round behind us to take full advantage were probably Marketing types. Someone probably thought it would be a good idea to take the calendar concept out of the box, run it up the flagpole and see if it had legs. Well, it didn’t. And the reason it didn’t was because they didn’t do their homework. I’ll wager that they didn’t ask the Arts people. I know for a fact that they didn’t even bother to communicate with Flickr’s Medway Towns group, and I doubt that they even bothered to search for it. Nearly 200 members have contributed over 6,000 photographs of Medway to the pool and these guys either couldn’t find it, or couldn’t be bothered to look.

    So, whether it be arrogance or ignorance, or a heady mixture of both that made them short-sighted enough to upset Medway’s photographers en masse whilst brilliantly breaching Flickr’s terms of usage at the same time, I simply don’t know. I do know that their wages are funded from my massive council tax bill though.

    Oh, and they and their cronies can stop trying to stamp “Made In Medway” on my forehead too.

    I tried to be concise. I failed. I apologise.

  2. @ Phil – Thanks for taking the time to articulate your thoughts. I’m very concious that within the Council there is a distinction between the corporate nonsense and upstanding individuals providing a decent public service. Every time I criticise the Council there’s a part of me that thinks I should find some examples of the good work that many of the individuals do. You’ve done that for me on this occassion. Thanks.

    @ deadheaduk – or for the Council to approach Medway Eyes perhaps! BTW I’ve been reading your blog quite extensivly tonight. Some great observations. Really enjoying your wry humour.

  3. I completely agree with the above comments about the council.
    Lately, loads of people have approached me about this competition and I have gone through the reasons I wont be entering with each of them.
    The council doesn’t seem to stop here with this kind of thing.
    They seem to try various things in order to avoid paying yet take what the public has and are happy to gain money from that.

    I find it embaressing that they actually think that they can use photographs and make money on them and simply NOT PAY for them!
    It isn’t even restricted to the ones on the callendar either so people that enter the competition and get no where could still end up with their image being used to make the council money… while the council hike the local taxes.

    I was pleased to see their group had been removed and look forward to seeing the next issue of “medway Matters” to see what they say!
    Would it be worth approaching the KM about this?

    • Cheers Brian. About the Medway Messenger and for that matter pretty much any local rag; they’re all too willing to ask for and publish pictures sent in by their readers though generally won’t stump up any cash for the contribution. I think this exploits amateur photographers, undermines professional photographers and ultimatly reduces the value of the medium.

      A few years back I sent in pictures and was proud to see them published and credited to me. I came to think though that I was simply feeding my ego, allowing myself to be exploited and guilty of supporting the mercinary tactics of the publishers.

      I’m all for sharing my work with charities, for artistic collaborations and such like but not to anyone or anything that’s a money making concern that has no intention on doing a bit of redistributing themselves.

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