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Shell: rights-grabbing competition justified because 'only aimed at amateurs'

23 November 2006 - EPUK

Shell has refused to alter rights-grabbing terms in the Shell/Telegraph “Capturing Movement” photography competition, defending its actions by insisting that the competition is only targeting amateur photographers.

The competition, which is promoted jointly between Shell and the Telegraph, includes a clause granting both promoters a license to continue to use any submitted photographs far beyond the scope of the original competition.

Copyright in all images submitted for this competition remains with the respective photographers. However, in consideration of being entered into the competition by Telegraph Media Group Limited and Shell International Limited, entrants agree to grant Telegraph Media Group Limited and Shell International Limited an exclusive, irrevocable, assignable licence to publish any or all of the submitted images in any of their publications in any medium, on their websites, and in any promotional material, at any time without further payment to or consultation of the photographers. The photographers of any images so featured will be fully credited.

When contacted by EPUK, Shell defended the terms as “fair and reasonable”, but made it clear that they would not impose similar terms upon professional photographers.

Anthony Letcher, Global eMarketing Manager for Shell UK’s Oil Products division, told EPUK “We fully appreciate that for professionals, usage rights are a key issue in protecting their livelihoods but we can assure you that Shell’s intention behind this competition was to encourage enthusiastic amateurs.”

In further correspondence with Shell, we pointed out that EPUK has never made any distinction between rights grabs aimed at amateurs, and those aimed at professionals, and has been rather successful when campaigning on behalf of both. In response, Letcher rather helpfully reminded us:

“The mission statement on your website clearly defines that you are for professional photographers and the issues they face, the ‘nuts and bolts of being in business’ covering licence fees, copyright issues etc.”

” I have amended our website to highlight that this competition is firmly aimed at amateurs.”

“Should any professional have uploaded an image that they are not happy for us to own, they can withdraw from the competition and contact me personally and I will ensure that the photograph and all rights in it are returned to them.”

The oil giant defended the rights-grabbing terms, saying they “allowed Shell to give entrants maximum exposure for their imagery and to allow us flexibility in gaining this exposure for them.” Shell did not answer a further query as to why such a wide ranging licence was needed to achieve this.

Commenting on an earlier but similar case reported on this website, Mark Stephens, a leading media lawyer for Finers Stephens Innocent, said: “The practice of using photo competitions which require photographers to give up their copyright seem to be to be a thinly veiled attempt at conning them out of their creative rights just so a large corporate can fatten up their picture stock.”

Competition co-sponsor, the Telegraph declined to comment.

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Comments

Calling in image and rights in this way is stealing.
Private people also have a claim of been treaded fair and with respect of the copyright at there photos.
Do not by Shell!

Comment 1: Peter Thornvig, 30 November 2006, 07:37 AM

This is typical of the big guns! ALL photographers, no matter if they are professional or amatuer, should not give up all their rights just to enter a competition. Don’t enter these competitions, ever, and they will eventually get the message not to try it in the first place.

Comment 2: Alan Chun, 4 December 2006, 12:36 PM

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