Commercial use – some questions answered

Within our rules, we have clauses that prohibit award winners, entrants and non-sponsor companies to use their titles for commercial purposes outside of their own personal endeavours. In this blog, we will explain in more detail, the reasons behind why they are important to the Competition, and more importantly, you the entrant.

First off, it is important to note that neither the Competition nor the founder (Stuart) takes any income from the Competition. On the contrary, all the money from entry fees and book sales is reinvested the Competition for prizes, producing prints for exhibitions etc. The Competition has considerable outlays and costs, and to allow the Competition to operate as it does, the cost of these outlays are subsidised by Stuart from his own pocket (currently the Competition owes him several thousand pounds). In addition to this, all the judges volunteer their time and expertise for free and the Competition wishes to express sincere thanks for their support over the past 4 years. The Competition intends to post a separate blog in more detail about how it operates, how it is financed and where the money goes.

Why is it important to have clauses that prohibit “commercial use”?

As the Competition operates on a not for profit basis, it is even more important to protect the interests of the Competition itself, the Sponsors and you the entrant. The Competition is run by photographers for photographers on a non commercial basis. Quite simply that means we don’t allow unauthorised companies to exploit our brand or your awards to make profit for themselves. They don’t sponsor the Competition and none of the profit they make comes back to the Competition to make prizes – it goes straight into their pockets. In addition, knowingly using our brand without permission to make profit is fraudulent. This means innocent members of the public can be deceived into buying a product or service they believe to be authentic, or endorsed by the Competition. We won’t allow that to happen.

In the 4 years the Competition has been running, the Competition has identified companies using the Competition’s brand to operate scams and exploit photographers who won awards. These included:

  • A printing company selling unauthorised prints of winning images from the Competition
  • A business exploiting winning photographers through offering blog posts in exchange for publicity. That publicity was a smokescreen to raise the profile of the business and boost their Google rankings.
  • A company operating an online scam, embedding paid affiliate links in award winning photographer’s images
  • A holiday tour company offering publicity for links. The publicity was in fact to steer links towards selling another photographer’s workshops.

Clearly, as the Competition has set these precedents for protecting the interests of the Competition and its entrants, it must stand by them in the present and in the future..

It’s also about preventing infringing of the Competition’s copyright and intellectual property. The Competition itself is beyond any doubt, an established body of work, clearly recognised throughout the world operating under the name “The Scottish Landscape Photographer of the Year”. It is a brand just like any other and has rights under the Copyright act. The awards issued by the Competition are products of the body of work and the rights extend to those awards.

It’s just the same as you, a photographer having intellectual property rights on an image you took. Your original image is your work and you are free to make products from that image, e.g. calendars, prints, mugs, t-shirts and sell them as you see fit. That is your body of work and you are also entitled to attach conditions to your products – even if you give them away for free. For example, let’s say you gave away a free calendar and you attached the condition that it is free so long as it is not reproduced or passed off as something else, and the person cannot make profit from it. Suffice to say, you’d be pretty annoyed if they did the opposite and reproduced it and sold copies online making profit from it. You would doubtless protect your right and for those same reasons, we protect the rights of our awards and our brand.

Having said all that, don’t be put off if you have a genuine enquiry. We absolutely welcome any requests to explore commercial use, because they open up the possibility of sponsorship and that benefits you the entrant if something comes of it. Even if we can’t obtain sponsorship, we may ask for something like a simple link back to the Competition website, and that raises the profile of the Competition which is good. Any reputable business will understand these concepts and have no problem with that.

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