US Embassy Guyana’s Photo Contest Creates IPR Controvery, Facebook Contest/Discussion Page Now Missing

Guyana mappaImage via WikipediaThe US Embassy in Guyana is organizing a photo competition through its Facebook/Flickr page, http://www.flickr.com/photos/usembassyguyana.  No photo has been uploaded in Flickr so far.

The photo competition was announced in its Facebook page (currently with 2,928  fans) but the announcement is not displayed anywhere else in its official website.

The Guyana Chronicle Online reported that the entry rules have sparked an IPR controversy.  The intellectual property rights controversy steams from a paragraph appended as a note to the embassy contest rules:

Notes: The Photo Contest is sponsored by US Embassy Guyana. The US Embassy Guyana reserves the right to use, reproduce, distribute and display all images submitted to the contest. By submitting an image, the participant agrees to give all rights, licenses, and permissions to use the image. The photos, like all images on the US Embassy Flickr site will be posted under “Creative Commons License” meaning they can be reused by any party. The organizers of the contest and the panel of judges reserve the right to reject any image, including any that contain political, sexual or violent themes.

Link to “Creative Commons License” is here >> http://creativecommons.org/

One of the embassy’s 2,928  fans helpfully points out that — even photography contests have Bill of Rights — which apparently had been launched in 2008 in response to those photography contests which have “the intention of claiming perpetual and irrevocable usage rights of the submitted entries, even in some cases copyrights and waiving of moral rights.”

US Embassy Guyana Public Affairs in Facebook linked to the Guyana Chronicle article then writes:

Guyana Chronicle picked up on the IPR discussion on our Facebook page. Myparkphotos.com runs a competition with rules similar to the ones here. Their rules say:  “MYPARKPHOTOS.COM and its Partner sites are accessible to anyone with Internet access.” The rules state the photographer understands the photos will be used to create promotional materials.”

So we went looking:  Its FAQ also says “Photographers retain all rights to their photographs after registering them with MyParkPhotos.”

Details about the US Embassy Guyana Public Affairs photo competition and rules are available on the Discussions page: http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=140708899279090&topic=176 

The page contains the back and forth about the contest but is now missing. We did super-copy those yesterday when we were drafting this post so they are below – republished here so you can read the concerns of a foreign audience and how the PAO’s response appears counter-productive:

 about a month ago
    *
      Nikhil I think you should make it clearer that you are acquiring all rights of the photographer merely by virtue of entry to the competition.
      It seems unfair and unnecessary that you would seek to acquire all the rights of the photographer when all that would be required for the purpose of your challenge is perpetual right to display or use in promotional materials.
      Have a look here for the Artists Bill of Rights with suggestions for fair competition terms: http://www.pro-imaging.org/content/view/177/153/
      about a month ago
    *
      Dwayne i’m going to buy my own underwater digital camera, Flipcam camera or photography book and stay away from this fraud.
      about a month ago
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      US Embassy Guyana Public Affairs Photos from this competition will remain on the US Embassy Flickr site for use by competitors in the website design competition which will follow. All photos on the US Embassy Flickr site, including photos by award-winning journalist and professional photographers are IPR-free, available to all small businesses, NGOs and anyone else who wants to use them to promote Guyana.
      about a month ago
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      Dwayne Sorry, but this poor third-world country has people who are not all stupid.
      about a month ago
    *
      Nikhil Even for the purpose you state, acquiring all of the photographer’s rights is unnecessary. While it may be easier from an administrative standpoint, as opposed to acquiring only those rights you need, it is surely unfair for the contestants who may not realise what they are giving away.
      At the very least, I think it is important to emphasize more than you have done, that you are acquiring ALL the rights of ALL the photos entered in the competition, whether they win or not.
      In return for acquiring all the rights of all the entries, only 6 people are going to be compensated in any way. In my view, that is quite unfair. Even the worse of the competitions I have seen tend to acquire the rights of the winners only, not all entries.
      about a month ago
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      US Embassy Guyana Public Affairs Which rights do you think would be necessary for anyone to be able to use the photos for any purpose?
      about a month ago
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      Nikhil If you want photos to use for any purpose, then you should open your wallet and buy them. What you are doing here is taking WITHOUT compensation ALL the entries of ALL the people who enter and don’t win. I have nothing more to say on this issue, if you still don’t understand the moral implications of taking people’s property without compensating them (and without warning them clearly what you are doing) you never will.
      about a month ago
    *
      Dwayne “By submitting an image, the participant agrees to give ALL RIGHTS, LICENSES, and PERMISSIONS to use the image. The photos, like all images on the US Embassy Flickr site will be posted under “Creative Commons License” meaning they CAN BE REUSED BY ANY PARTY.”
      Maybe someone should take any of the existing photos on the embassy’s flickr site and reproduce them commercially and we’ll see how that goes down with the embassy. Any image.
      about a month ago
    *
      Dwayne 500 years later, and some things remain the same: recall the “discoverers” of the New World giving a few trinkets to the Natives in exchange for gold. How appropriate in this month of September in Guyana.
      about a month ago
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      Dwayne Terms and conditions like these for this competition (for Guyana) could never fly in the USA. I recall while doing a course with the New York Institute of Photography during a lesson on entering photo competitions, students were warned about entering competitions that have these same kind of rules – namely the giving away of all rights. Stay far away from those competitions was the warning from the USA’s oldest photography school. How ironic that the US Embassy in Guyana is writing terms and conditions like they have for this photo competition.
      My opinion is that maybe the embassy has decided to irritate Guyanese because of our country’s general ignorance of, and indifference towards intellectual property rights.
      I’d say finally thanks but no thanks.
      about a month ago
    *
      US Embassy Guyana Public Affairs The purpose of the photos is to develop tourism and small business opportunities in Guyana. If anyone would like to use photos of the Embassy’s Flickr site to make T-shirts, coffee mugs and sell them, please, by all means, go ahead.
      Let’s improve the economy, job opportunity and attractiveness of Guyana for tourism.
      about a month ago
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      US Embassy Guyana Public Affairs Dwayne, I LOVE your profile photo!
      about a month ago
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      US Embassy Guyana Public Affairs The photos being posted by Facebook fans look great! Keep ’em coming!
      about a month ago
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      Quacy i understand the tourism concept of this promotion…i was a bit excited when i asw the add in the news papers..because i have some beuatiful pictures of Guyana and im talking rare pictures…but after reading through all these comments i was force to reconsidered paticipating because its is true …
      .what happens if im to loose? ,
      what happens when people would start using my photos for there own personal gain (t-shirts, cups etc.)
      the point is that my photos caused me time and money and i should be compensated for them regardless cause i know for a fact that the viewers will love them
      please for a response for my concern
      you can run through my profile and u’ll get an idea as to what kind of photos im talking about
      about 3 weeks ago

That lengthy exchange used to be here but not anymore:
http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=140708899279090&topic=176

We understand the intent of this contest, but we cannot understand is why the Public Affairs Office has gone deaf to concerns about IPR issues from its very own fans.  Instead of addressing those concerns,   US Embassy Guyana Public Affairs writes:

If anyone would like to use photos of the Embassy’s Flickr site to make T-shirts, coffee mugs and sell them, please, by all means, go ahead.

No, no, no – that’s now how you win friends and influence folks even if you like their profile photos!  US Embassy Guyana currently do not have an ambassador and is under the leadership of career diplomat, Thomas C. Pierce.  The contest begins on September 1, 2010 and closes on October 31, 2010.

 


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