Does the Royal Photographic Society adequately support professional photographers?
You don't need a lot of foresight or experience in the professional photography sector to see how these competitions are damaging an industry, even more so in the nation's current financial crisis. It's a difficult enough occupation for freelancers without competition organisers pulling the rug from under their feet by immorally grabbing the rights of the image creators with terms and conditions like these:
Entrants will retain copyright for their photos. However, by submitting a photo to the competition entrants are granting a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual licence for their entries to be edited, published, reproduced and used by Fight for Sight and Park Plaza London hotels for any purpose, free of charge.
I wanted to discuss this matter on the RPS Forum (see http://www.rpsforum.org/index.php?/topic/11097-another-competition-grabbing-images-and-full-rights/) and to get the RPS to support the Artists' Bill of Rights (http://artists-bill-of-rights.org/). I was left with the feeling that the thread was prematurely closed. A discussion normally involves parties bouncing their ideas back and forth and repetition, to some degree, is inevitable...but this felt wrong and left me with the feeling that I wasn't party to some important information.
I have since found a couple of links that shed a bit more light on the issue for me, particularly on the RPS's stance on the issue:
I have to say that I was alarmed that the RPS had even considered running a competition that would have harvested images in the same way as some as these rights grabbers and was relieved to read that the organisation changed their minds after feedback from some members and other profesionals in the field.
I am left with a nagging question though ... in light of the articles on the links posted above and the split attitude towards the protection of artists rights ... do the RPS have the interests of amateur AND professional photographers at heart or are professional photographers better off with other organisations such as the British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP) (http://www.bipp.com/).
One of the indicators are this: both the BIPP and the RPS are members of the The British Photographic Council (BPC). The BIPP and the BPC openly support the Artists' Bill of Rights (ABoR) by proudly displaying their logos on the ABoR website. The RPS won't join the campaign and I have to ask why? The politicians within the RPS will say that they're already supporting the ABoR as the RPS are members of the BPC. I don't accept that. If you support a principle or cause, you should sign up to it properly.
The Artists' Bill of Rights campaign (http://artists-bill-of-rights.org/) promotes the adoption of a set of ethical standards for competitions and appeals to which creative works are submitted, for example, photographs, music, film, illustrations, graphic design and literary pieces such as stories and poems.
As a professional photographer I need to belong to one organisation that can help me to develop my photographic career and look after my interests. The RPS is supposed to be looking after the interests of photographers, both amateur and professional. So I find myself asking the original question: Does the Royal Photographic Society adequately support professional photographers?
What can you do to help?
Support the Artists' Bill of Rights (ABoR) by logging on to http://artists-bill-of-rights.org/ and get involved in whatever way you can owing to your time restrictions. At the very least, follow their presence of Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Artists-Bill-of-Rights/122794251148479). This is for ALL creatives - not just photographers.
Check the Terms and Conditions of all competitions that you enter - if they state anything similar to:
Entrants will retain copyright for their photos. However, by submitting a photo to the competition entrants are granting a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual licence for their entries to be edited, published, reproduced and used by .... Don't enter it! They're harvesting images and killing the industry. Copy the webpage of such competitions onto http://www.facebook.com/pages/Artists-Bill-of-Rights/122794251148479 and give ABoR a heads up, whichever country you're in.
While you're happily clicking away at Facebook 'likes' - give my page a click too would you? http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wolf-Photography/215943295114638.
All the best