Tilburg, Netherlands

Lenka tries to capture positive emotions. Her work features images highlighting inner and outer beauty of various subjects. She loves...

National Geographic: the copyright issue (and something about privacy)

Now and then, somebody on my Watchlist reports that his or her photograph was named a Photo of the day, or included in the Daily Dozen at the National Geographic website.

’Wouldn’t it be nice to have a publication in NG?‘, have I asked myself some time ago… ’Of course it would!’ So what to do to get a photograph published? I went to the website linked above, and found the place to submit the photographs. But I was in a hurry and didn’t come to it for the next couple of weeks.

On April 20, Silvia Ganora posted an important journal Photo contests? Check this out first

On the same day, I’ve got a LinkedIn message by Beate Chelette named ‘Call For Entry 9th Female Artists Art Annual’. Being specially alert after previous communication (thank you so much, Silvia!), I did read all that fine print and found some interesting points that I’ve posted in my comment to the message (it is in the Photography Professionals group; I believe it is an open group now so you should be able to read them; let me know if not, I’d copy to this journal.)

Beate’s response made me think further and I’ve decided to check on NG’s terms. And I must say I’m quite shocked by what I’ve found; read my reaction below:

@ Beate, you really made me think and go further with reading…

What they take and give, and what you suggest, that makes a certain difference for me. I would most probably agree with giving one of my works for free for some time, for getting a nice award that I could list in my bio. But,

The problem is that you can’t become an ‘award winning’ photographer here, simply because there are no awards at all…

So you have no chance to get awarded, but on the other hand they do take unlimited rights on every single photograph posted. They may take your photograph, they may alter it in any manner they want to, and they may publish it (original or altered) without even naming the author.

Bill of Rights says about it:
… Competition terms and conditions should set out a time limit during which they are permitted to use the entrants works to promote the competition. …
… In order to promote a competition a perpetual license is unnecessary and unfair to entrants, a time limit should always be specified…

Here is a more detailed analysis of NG’s ‘Your shot’, if anybody wants to read it: http://artists-bill-of-rights.org/competition-lists/rights-off-list/national-geographic,-usa/

And there is one more issue, maybe even more serious: (you really made me to read carefully :))

To be able to submit to ‘Your shot’, you have to register. Obligatory information includes (among other) your email address, full name, address, phone number and birth date. Until you fill in all of this, you cannot submit. But look at another part of the web (http://www.nationalgeographic.com/community/terms.html, under Registration) to see what may happen with your private data:

‘By registering, you consent to the collection of your data, including, without limitation, Registration Data, by National Geographic and processing of such data by National Geographic in connection with your use of the Site. You consent to the technical processing and transmission involved in your use of the Site, including, without limitation, Registration Data, and you acknowledge that such process may involve (a) transmission of such data over various networks; and (b) modifying such data to conform and adapt to technical requirements of connecting networks or devices.’

My data, including the complete registration data?!?

So I’ve asked myself where is my privacy. And this is what I’ve found:

‘Your Choices’

‘If you do not wish to receive promotional communications from National Geographic, including our Affiliates and our licensees, please call or write to us at the address below.’

‘…it is also optional to allow us to share your personally identifiable information with selected reputable third parties so that they can provide you with promotional communications. If you do not wish us to do so, please call or write to us at the address below.’

‘Because we plan our communications in advance, it may take several weeks for your request to become effective. If, due to human error, you continue to receive our communications, please contact us again and we will make every effort to correct the situation.’

Nice. Nice? So to be able to submit a single photograph to NG’s ‘Your shot’, I would have to provide my complete contact information and my date of birth. Great that I may ask them not to provide my data further, but I can’t make that immediately at the Registration (!), so for several weeks some unspecified third parties will have access to my contact info.

No, thank you…

My questions to the RB members:

Have you ever submitted photos to NG?
Did you know these rules?
Don’t you mind the fact that you’re giving your best work for free for unlimited time, waiving your moral rights, and letting millions people to download your work for free? (just lets me think about all those recent journals about stolen photos…)
Don’t you mind the fact that your private information will be given to unspecified third parties, and you cannot prevent it (at least for ‘several weeks’)?

I will love to read your opinions!

Happy Easter (and good light, of course ;))

Journal Comments

  • Peter Hill
  • Lenka