Nikon Withdraws Sponsorship of Microsoft Photo Contest

Posted on 8/15/2008 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Microsoft U.K.'s Iconic Britain photo contest initial goal was to identify the 100 images that best define Britain. The contest was originally co-sponsored by Nikon, which has now withdrawn its support due to the controversy surrounding image ownership.

Designed to promote Microsoft's new Live Search functionality, "Iconic Britain" asked users to search the Web and submit the images found for consideration by a jury, which include Mike Selby, the editorial director of Rex Features, and Simon Coleman, general manager of Nikon U.K. Nikon also offered a number of camera prizes.

The original terms of the contest endeavored to address potential intellectual-property issues by including this clause: "Entrants acknowledge that some images generated by Live Search may be subject to the intellectual property rights (including copyright) of a third party. Microsoft does not encourage or condone Entrants submitting images to the Competition that infringe the rights of a third party. In the event Microsoft is notified that an image infringes the intellectual property rights, or any other right, of a third party it shall promptly remove the image from the Competition."

However, the act of duplicating someone else's copyrighted material and transferring it to another Web site constitutes unauthorized use by most countries' laws. Numerous ethical issues have also been raised, including the perception that "Iconic Britain" can be seen as encouraging image piracy and allowing contest entrants to win prizes by using someone else's creations. While the legal details of whether this could constitute fair use would have to be decided in a court of law, widespread protests by photographers and industry organizations have has a more immediate effect.

Nikon has issued a statement formally withdrawing its support. "This is due to the feedback and concerns raised by photographers and entrants surrounding the competition mechanic that was developed and promoted by Microsoft," said the equipment manufacturer, which already awarded the camera prizes, but does not want to be associated with the competition going forward.

Pursued by organizations including Pro-Imaging, which has mounted a campaign to ensure that contests respect copyright laws and photographers' rights, Microsoft is also taking action. Though the submission period is now over and the contest has entered the final judging phase, Microsoft has assured the photo community that it is "taking steps to obtain the rights to use every image to be featured in the subsequent stages of the Iconic Britain competition." The company also invited Pro-Imaging to discuss best practices when using photographs in similar competitions in the future.

Copyright © 2008 Julia Dudnik Stern. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


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