I was contacted recently regarding a promotion from RedBull as they’re holding a competition in which you go to Sisikon in Switzerland to report/photograph their cliff diving series.

To paraphrase from my ‘invitation’: 
"Red Bull is looking for a reporter to head to Switzerland to capture the twists and pikes of the amazing divers, the breathtaking location and the all round excitement."

"To be considered for this exciting assignment, head to http://www.redbullreporter.com and keep uploading examples of your best photos. Tag your uploads ‘Cliff Diving’.

UK entrants only."

This sounds fine until you look at the Terms and Conditions on their website:
 #6 You will be solely responsible for the content of your submission and the consequences of posting or publishing it, including in relation to any defamatory material or content that intrudes on the privacy of any third party 

Which means if they use your picture and then someone sues them … they point to this clause and pass the buck to you.

Talk about your ultimate get out of Jail free card. And then there’s’ this … 
#8 You will retain full ownership rights in your submissions, but in submitting your submission to us, you agree to grant to us a worldwide, exclusive, royalty-free, transferable licence (including the right to sub-licence to any user of the Website or otherwise) to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display or otherwise manipulate your submission including for the purposes of the submission. In submitting your submission to us you agree to waive all moral rights in your submission.

So in other words, I still own the copyright, but I can’t re-sell any of the images as Redbull have worldwide exclusive rites to use, manipulate and re-licence my pictures.

They could make them into flyers or a billboard poster – and the person taking the picture doesn’t see a penny.

Even though they’d have to fly from the UK to Switzerland, stay in accommodation, pay insurances and permits and have wear and potential damage/loss to my (rather expensive) camera gear.

The prize for winning he competition is that they say you "may" be selected to go on a selected assignment for them.
#5 Those that are selected for the pool of Reporters will be considered to undertake special assignments on behalf of Red Bull, on terms to be agreed. Such assignments shall be selected at Red Bull’s discretion. Red Bull is under no obligation to commission any member of the pool to undertake such an assignment

So they don’t really have to do anything other than hoover up free content. They can get all the images and not have to select anyone for a special assignment.

I’m all for a bit of creative enterprise and will elect to work for selected charities, but when it’s a multi-billion dollar companies looking for free content …. that’s taking the Michael Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.

I’m actually not sure how they can pull this off as no Pro photographer will glance twice at the ‘competition’ and I can’t see an amateur coming up the money to do it either.

Perhaps Red-Bull should behave themselves and just pay a pro or an agency who will get them the images they want. they will have the passes to get to exclusive areas and the technical and creative ability to capture amazing images for them.

Or perhaps cliff diving isn’t high-profile enough to warrant paying a local Swiss pro to turn up. To quote a line I read in an industry article recently covering a very similar scenario of ‘free content’ "Since when did mediocre become acceptable?"

It’s all showing a sad trend for the photojournalists out there. the knock on from that is that as their work dries up from conglomerates getting ‘free’ content, they have to move into new areas to make a living.

My heart goes out to them

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