Gary Edwards has made some interesting observations and asked some
interesting questions. So have some others. Here is my take on it:
1. It is a way to collect usable images at very low cost and works under
the millions of chimpanzees with typewriters principle: If you let enough
of them randomly peck around long enough, eventually one will produce a
William Shakespeare quality play.
2. Is it ethical? It is certainly legal. I do have a couple of
reservations about it. At least the rules are up front about it and if I
read it correctly, the rights are *not* exclusive which means the
photographer *can* use the image for something else. This is provided
whoever it is sold to doesn't know they might get it free from the
photographer's employer. The other part of the ethical question is how
clearly the relinquishing of image rights are stated in relationship to
announcement of and instructions for contest entry. This part was not
clear to me.
3. This sound strangely similar to another contest which has been
announced here in several postings. See the following for its rules:
This is also a comparatively inexpensive image fishing expedition (there
are advertising, contest administration and prize costs). Rights to the
photograph are relinquished upon entry submission. Although it doesn't
state exclusive rights, it doesn't state they are not. You might not win
and could still find your photograph on a huge poster hanging over the
drugstore camera counter without any recourse. On one hand I am
disappointed that permanent copyright relinquishment upon submission is is
not stated in the submission instructions as it is in the rules. OTOH
those who do not bother to read the rules beforehand and sign the entry
form stating they have should not complain much afterwards as it *is*
*clearly* stated in the rules.
4. For most entrants to the corporate contest or the one cited in #3,
image rights are not an issue. The photographer would never pursue
marketing the image. Those who do worry about potential photograph
marketablity are not likely to enter . . . or at least would not enter any
photograph for which its future marketability is desired.
5. As to what I prefer: Correct me if I'm wrong, but Kodak usually does
this a bit differently. If I remember their rules correctly, the only
rights relinquished are for winning entries. I like that much better.
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