Eleven professional photography associations have launched a worldwide campaign to help promote the intellectual property rights of creative people in all disciplines—photography, video, film, fine arts, music, writing, design, etc.
The campaign centers around an Artist’s Bill of Rights that outlines a set of ethical principles that enable individuals to control how their creative works are used. It updates a document that the international Pro-Imaging Organization initiated in 2008 to protect the rights of individuals who enter photography competitions.
The Bill of Rights is helping to raise awareness of the practice of “rights-grabbing” in which some competitions harvest unlimited usage rights, or even the copyright, of the works submitted by contest entrants.
According to campaign manager Gordon C. Harrison, “The worst type of rights grabbing is where the terms and conditions for a contest require the entrant to assign the entire copyright and other rights for any works submitted to the competition, and to waive their moral rights. These practices are not uncommon. We have documented 35 cases of copyright grabbing, 26 cases where moral rights have to be waived, and 7 cases where both occurred.”
If the practice of rights-grabbing continues to spread, it will devalue photography, art, music, and creativity as a whole by reducing the need for organizations to commission or purchase creative works.
A key aim of the Artist’s Bill of Rights campaign is to educate the public about the importance and potential value of their intellectual property rights. The campaign can also help educate contest organizers who might unknowingly be asking for more usage rights than they actually needed to conduct and promote the contest.
The Artist’s Bill of Rights campaign is presented through a website that is now available in over 40 languages.
The campaign has the following aims:
- To provide a means whereby all artists’ associations can unite around a common set of standards for preservation of their rights.
- To promote the Bill of Rights’ standards for the preservation of artists’ rights in competitions and appeals seeking creative works.
- To promote organisations who support the Artists’ Bill of Rights and to promote their competitions and appeals.
- To educate the public about the purpose and value of their intellectual property rights and to enable them to recognise when they are being exploited.
- To publish reports about the extent of rights grabbing and to analyse and quantify the rights grabbed by the private, public, charitable, and non-profit sectors.
- To press for legislative changes that would protect the public from unfair and unethical terms and conditions that seek to exploit their intellectual property rights.
The eleven associations currently supporting the campaign include:
- Advertising & Illustrative Photographers Association (New Zealand)
- Association of Professional Photographers (Iceland)
- Association of Photographers (United Kingdom)
- Australian Commercial & Media Photographers
- Australian Institute of Professional Photography
- British Institute of Professional Photography (United Kingdom)
- British Photographic Council (United Kingdom)
- DJ:Fotograferne, photographers within the Union of Journalists (Denmark)
- Editorial Photographers of United Kingdom and Ireland
- Pro-Imaging Organisation (United Kingdom)
- The National Press Photographers Association (US)
In addition to these associations, many private and public sector organizations have proclaimed their support for the principles, including the Society of Authors. All of the supporters are listed on the campaign website. All artists organizations are invited to participate, and contact the campaign organizers through the website.
The website also lists photography competitions that comply with the principles in The Artist’s Bill of Rights and those that don’t.
If you or your studio or organization want to show support for the principles in the Artist’s Bill of Rights, you can grab the appropriate logo below, and link it to: http://artists-bill-of-rights.org
Website: Artist’s Bill of Rights
Resources on the Artist’s Bill of Rights Website
Guide to Rights & Licensing
An overview of copyright, types of licenses, moral rights, and the consequences of rights grabbing. As the authors of the website point out: “Rights grabbing devalues creativity by acquiring creativity for nothing.” Rights grabbing can also damage your reputation if your work is used to promote products, services, or campaigns of which you don’t approve.
Organiser’s Guide to The Artist’s Bill of Rights
This section of The Artist’s Bill of Right website explains how contest organizers can write competition terms and conditions that will give them the rights they need for their own publicity and promotion requirements while respecting the rights of the entrants.
Spreadsheets on this page attempt to calculate the extent of the problem and pinpoint the sectors in which rights-grabbing occurs most frequently. An analysis of current statistics estimates that more than 6,000 images are being grabbed each day.