23 April
Photo by Ailbhe Flynn on Unsplash

Head On photo awards 2020 – REVISED after organisers commit to artist-friendly terms

About 

Arts Law regularly reviews the terms and conditions of competitions and rates them out of five stars. Our review looks broadly at the terms and conditions of a competition. In particular, we look closely at how a competition deals with an entrant’s copyright and moral rights and consider this in light of the prize. Entrants should always take into account the possible profile-raising which may result from being a finalist or winner.

By accepting the terms and conditions of a competition, entrants should be aware that they may be entering a legally binding contract.

Review 

Arts Law initially rated these terms and conditions 4 out of 5. Head On contacted Arts Law to speak with us about making the prize’s terms and conditions more artist friendly (for example for Head On to make a commitment to naming the photographers whenever using the photographs and to have defined parameters around how they could use the photographs), and we are delighted that they took on board our suggestions. We have now upgraded our rating to 5 out of 5 to reflect this.

Arts Law has reviewed the terms and conditions of the Head On Photo Awards 2020 (the ‘Awards’), organised by the Head On Foundation (‘Head On’).

The deadline for submissions is 16 February 2020.

This year, Arts Law has rated these Awards 5 out of 5 stars.

5 stars

About the Awards and entry

These Awards cover three categories: portrait, landscape and student categories. There are terms and conditions for the “Head On Portrait and Landscape Awards” and separate terms and conditions for the “Head on Student Award”.

The “Portrait and Landscape Award” categories are open to all photographers residing anywhere in the world. The “Student Award” category is open to year K-12 students enrolled in an Australian school.

There will be 40 finalists for the portrait category, 40 for the landscape category, and 20 finalists for the student category, whose works will be included in the exhibition. In addition, there will be 100 semifinalists from the portrait category whose works will be shown at the Festival Hub in Paddington, Sydney.

Of the finalists, some will be selected for a printed exhibition in May during the Head On Photo Festival 2020 (the Festival) at the Festival Hub in Paddington, Sydney, as well as the possibility to be included in an exhibition to be toured nationally and internationally. Entrants submit a digital file and then if their photograph is selected as a finalist for exhibit, Head On will cover the costs of printing the photograph. Exhibited work may be made available for sale.  We assume the artist will set the sale price, but best practice would be if the terms made that clear. Head On will take a commission on any sales under terms to be negotiated with the finalists. In addition, Head On will retain the right to exhibit the finalists’ prints for a period of 5 years.

Awards and prizes

These Awards cover three categories: portrait, landscape and student categories. There are terms and conditions for the “Head On Awards for Portrait and Landscape” (Portrait and Landscape Awards) and separate terms and conditions for the “Head on Student Awards”.

The “Portrait and Landscape Awards” categories are open to all photographers residing anywhere in the world. The “Student Awards” category is open to year K-12 students enrolled in an Australian school.

There will be 40 finalists for the portrait category, 40 for the landscape category, and 20 finalists for the student category, whose works will be included in the exhibition. In addition, there will be 100 semifinalists from the portrait category whose works will be shown at the Festival Hub in Paddington, Sydney. Unsuccessful applicants will be notified by email.

Of the finalists, some will be selected for a printed exhibition in May during the Head On Photo Festival 2020 (the Festival) at the Festival Hub in Paddington, Sydney, as well as the possibility to be included in an exhibition to be toured nationally and internationally. Entrants submit a digital file and then if their photograph is selected as a finalist for exhibit, Head On will cover the costs of printing, framing and mounting the photograph. Exhibited work may be made available for sale.  We assume the artist will set the sale price, but best practice would be if the terms made that clear. Head On commits to notifying the artist if there are any commercial opportunities, including sales. Head On will take a commission on any sales under terms to be negotiated with the finalists. In addition, Head On will retain the right to exhibit the finalists’ prints for a period of 5 years.

Awards and prizes

On offer are cash prizes plus exhibition opportunities, camera prizes, 12-month subscriptions to Adobe Creative and other software.

The terms and conditions for each Award do not go into the details of the prizes. Instead this information can be found on the websitehere (for the Portrait and Landscape categories) and here (for the Student category). Although those website pages are linked in the terms and conditions, best practice would be for this information to be located inside the terms and conditions for transparency and to avoid confusion.

For the Portrait and Landscape Awards only the winner of the first prize gets cash – it is generous at $15,000. First prize and the runners up get other prizes including, cameras, software subscriptions, and exhibition and exposure opportunities.  The 40 Finalists in each category who are not winners or runner up, get subscription prizes too. For the Portrait Awards, there are also 100 semifinalists whose works will be shown in a slide-show at the Festival Hub.

For the Student Awards the cash prizes are much smaller – $500 for first prize and for the runners up $300 and $100. In addition, finalists who are not a winner or runner up, get a subscription prize as well as exhibition and other exposure opportunities.

The prizes are very relevant to photographers given the equipment awarded and the exposure opportunities. The first prizes are generous in the Portrait and Landscape Awards while the Student cash prizes are less so.

Copyright – how can Head On use your photograph?

Overall, the terms around copyright are artist friendly. The terms include a positive statement that copyright in the photographs is retained by the photographer.

Finalists for the Portrait and Landscape and Student Awards (and semi finalists too of the Portrait and Landscape Awards) give permission for reproduction of their works for the exhibition and  a non-exclusive licence for use of their works in any media for promotion of the exhibition and the Festival. It is limited to 5 years for print media but unlimited for electronic use.

It is great it is limited in time for the print media and limited to the purpose of promoting the exhibition and the festival. The electronic licence is unlimited in time – this probably makes sense and afterall is good promotion for the photographers – and we like that it is limited to the promotional purposes. We like too that it is non-exclusive, which means photographers are free to license elsewhere.

Head On does not expressly state that these licences are for “non-commercial” use. They probably are, but for clarity and best practice, it would to say so to make it clear that Head On cannot use the images on any merchandise for sale.

Entrants to the Student Award category should be aware that one of the terms state that Head on will enter their photo into the ‘Silk Road Youth International Photography Competition’ (if agreed to by the parent/guardian). At the time of writing, Arts Law is unable to locate the terms and conditions for that competition so would advise entrants to familiarise themselves with them before agreeing.

Moral rights – can Head On make changes to your photograph? How will they credit you?

Under the law an artist has moral rights including the right to be credited for their artwork and for their artwork to be dealt with integrity (that is, no changes or treatment to the work which affects their artistic integrity).

We are very pleased with the way Head On have approached the photographer’s moral rights – the terms demonstrate their positive commitment to photographers’ legal rights. When it comes to naming the photographers, the terms clearly state that Head On will credit the photographer whenever the works are used by Head On. Further, if Head On supply the photographs to any third parties (such as newspaper and magazines) they will use their best-endeavor to ensure the images are credited.

In terms of maintaining the integrity of the work, Head On clearly state that they will not make any changes without first obtaining the photographer’s permission (unless reasonable in the circumstances to do so).

Anything else?

We note that for all categories, the exhibition prints of the finalists’ images will be retained by Head On and added to the “Head on Collection” for 5 years (and may be exhibited in that time)..

Note, the retained finalists’ prints (other than the winners’ prints) will be destroyed after 5 years if the photographer doesn’t contact Head On.  Given that Head On bears the cost of framing and printing the works, this is probably not unreasonable.

To conclude

Well done Head On!  These are great awards for photographers.  The terms are fair and the awards provide a fantastic opportunity for photographers to exhibit their work and raise their profile.  

Arts Law was thrilled with Head On’s willingness to listen to our suggestions to improve its terms and conditions. We congratulate Head On for their terms and conditions which show a fair and respectful treatment of photographers.

You can lodge a query with us here if you would like to obtain advice from Arts Law about this particular competition.

Further Information

For more information see our website and our free information sheet on competition conditions.

Artists are welcome to contact Arts Law for legal advice on the terms of a competition. We also invite competition organisers to contact Arts Law for best practice assistance to make their terms and conditions fairer for artists. Please email us at [email protected] to tell us about any competitions or prizes you think we should check. 

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