Responses to the TDC Post

24 hours of the Facebook thread...

Lawrence Moy Hing
Hey Mark,
So why is it acceptable for an organization to claim copyright over the winner's photographs?
There was another competition that offered some pictures of birds of T&T that claims copyright over the winner's photographs....
I don't agree with that either.

Hayden-Godfather Margerum
sense...will share...

David Wears
I have always been against this rule, but it's a regulation that is used all over the world. Recently I tried my best to get the daughter of a friend, who shoots, not to enlist a photo to a National Geographic competition. Their answer to me was, "it might get into the book", the book being a coffee table book that will house the top 500 photographs. they will have purchase the book. Not very fair.

Roy Williams
What is said is EVERY picture. Not just the winners. So for a $10,000 cost they get a few thousand pictures they can publish at will.

Mark Lyndersay
Lawrence, in fact, I don't agree that copyright should be transferred in any circumstances in a competition.
The range of rights that can be granted over different durations that will be useful to the people who hold these competitions is so expansive that they can usually get what they want without being so rapacious.
This kind of action is lazy and preys on the ill-informed. My letter is an attempt to redress the balance by noting the real cost of entering this competition. I might sell all rights to an image for TT$10,000, but I'd like to negotiate that, not throw it at TDC/Ministry of Tourism in the vague hope that I might win, losing all my rights in the process.

Mark Lyndersay
By definition, two people cannot hold the copyright. One person can hold the copyright and license specific rights to another person. This is the basis of modern professional photography.
In some cases, particularly in photography, the copyright to the image can be held by the photographer, while ancillary rights, such as property rights, rights to privacy in subjects and the rights of creators in objects being photographs can complicate licensing.

Mark Lyndersay
I wrote my note acknowledging that some people will enter anyway, for the same reason that they might buy a lottery ticket. The perceived value of what they have is far less than the return they might receive if they win.
That's fine if it's an informed decision and a calculated gamble. Nobody should be in the position of crying foul if they find their image in a collage on a TDC billboard when they won nothing at all.

Valdez D. Brooks
I was reading an article recently about camera clubs but this is definitely one of the reasons why there should be one (or a few) now. Cause when it come to gov't expenditure...TDC (Teifin Doh Count).
Mark, Dave. Message mih if allyuh for that.

Tracey Chan
I'm sure as all of you professional photographers know, they want to take your professional work by copyright chokehold too - no matter what.

It's not just taking advantage of possibly uninformed amateur photogs that irks me, but taking people's intelligence for granted. I mean, really, .... do... WHAT? It's beyond illogical.

I had a very idiotic meeting with them last year for a project I was involved with. Seriously not worth it the time and effort. Also the attitude of "oh you soooo need us, since there's nothing else...loser!" makes me want to puke a little.

I will go a step further to urge ALL creatives involved to read the fine print with ANYTHING involving ANY company/gov't agency and to have copyright/IP/entertainment lawyers (I think there's 1/v few in the country?), on speed dial.

There are also quirky laws that tend to screw with creatives on the whole. I posted an article from a friend a while back about exhibiting in public/losing any future patents, but that's another story.

Tracey Chan
In addition, the disrespect is just accepted because we have no damn respect for ourselves as creators and are not committed to standing up for our rights. It's a poor reflection on us though. We are...not...unionized.

Tracey Chan
Am not even going to start with that...

Kevin Ramcharan
I know that photog the world over have a serious problem with copyright ingfringments, especially now seeing their pics all over the internet with no reference to them. However, in Trinidad, we also have the problem that copyright law is so poorly developed, so, we can hardly begin to have a mature discussion on the topic.

If it were me, who takes pics with a canon powershot IS3, for fun, I may not be so concerned about losing copyright to one of my pictures. However, that fact should be pointed out to me so that I can make an informed decision.

It is like where google and/or twitter and/or facebook try to stake claim to posts etc. the outcry forced them to stop that. copyright law in T & T needs to develop so that a real debate can begin.

Mark Lyndersay
Folks have asked for a non-FB link, so here's the post on my photography blog:

Tracey Chan
Urgh - so depressing. Really. What are the numbers again for cp/ip lawyers? I heard on the radio perchance that there may be 1 entertainment lawyer hanging around. Forgot his name though. Brain dead atm.

Calling out the big guns in a mo.
It's educating people about their rights - that's where it has to start to even begin an outcry. Outcry. Oh god..we do outcries soooo well... :-/

Thanks for the link Mark!

Mark Lyndersay
Copyright law is properly in place in Trinidad and Tobago for the last 20 years, ever since the country became a signatory to the Berne Convention.
What has been lacking is any serious will for enforcement beyond the activities of COTT.
You can still buy a pirated DVD in plain sight of a police officer, can't you?

Petal Maharaj Hwang
But this is international copyright law and would only apply if TIDCO was a foreign entity. What is Trinidad law? Outside of literature, copyright is a fairly recent phenomenon in T'dad.

Tracey Chan
Mark/Kevin is this a correct link for the Berne convention? (gah amended in '79? eep)

So... the devil in the details.. the enforcement details. Hum.

Mark Lyndersay
International copyright law is local T&T law, by and large, that's what happens when you sign on to the Berne Convention, which is the mechanism that allows for cross-border prosecution of copyright claims. T&T signed 20 years ago. That hardly makes it a recent phenomenom. I spent a lot of time arguing in meetings two decades ago with a phalanx of photographic professionals to ensure that our rights were properly represented in a law that was being seen as only relevant to music, at the time.

Mark Lyndersay
Yep, that looks like the document to which T&T holds itself legally bound by virtue of its signature.

Petal Maharaj Hwang
Mark, I don't think so. Berne states that its signatories recognize the copyright of works of authors from other signatory countriesin the same way it recognises the copyright of its own nationals. Unless foreign photographers are entering this competition, then it doesn't really apply and local photograhers only have recourse under local copyright law.

Jalaludin Khan
Thanks Mark

FYI if anyone may be interested

Kevin Ramcharan
Mark, I agree. It is not the law itself, even though 20 years is not a long time. The fact is that we do not take copyright seriously here.

When an artiste can release an album or song TO A MUSIC STATION and the next day it on the streets.

Where I can't by a legal copy of Machel HD's album before the end of Lent, but my sister has it on her computer, and they selling it on the street.

Where I can't rent a legal DVD locally, but I can get a pirated copy for $10.

When it is NORMAL to "see the movie on a pirate DVD" rather than go to the cinema.

Where "Congratulations" to teams/individuals in newspapers are nothing more than advertisments for the companies doing the "congratulating"

Is there enforcment? Are we serious? The debate internationally is on concepts such as fair use, reverse engineering and so on. We have a provision in the latest amendment that deals with this, but do we even understand what it means

Kevin Ramcharan
Also, although we are a party to the Berne Convention, it only forms part of our domestic law insofar as Parliament has incorporated it into local legislation.
I think that for the most part this has been done

Mark Lyndersay
I wasn't suggesting that the competition itself was governed by the Berne Convention, only that there are points of law that need to be in place before a nation can become a signatory. It is a benchmark of maturity in copyright law, otherwise there's no point in having a nation sign on. Twenty years ago, most of those laws were proposed, debated and passed in Parliament.
Key to the issue is that a Government organisation is promoting this competition in direct defiance of the spirit of its own laws.

Kevin Ramcharan
here is the link to the copyright act Chapter 80:82... thanks to the Ministry of Legal Affairs Website
note that photographic works are protected under the act and section 28 deals with assignment/transfer of rights.

Now I have not seen the ad (don't read the "paper" paper, but it ma be that you have to sign a form to enter the competition agreeing to the terms and conditions, which would then raise the question whether that is sufficient to pass the copyright.
further, people would have to understand that THEY could not use the picture THEMSELVES if they submitted it to TDC

Kason Cupid
come on...write or wrong go back decades and you will see this same line in every competition for a wide range of companies and government agencies..not saying it write but you acting like it new

Tracey Chan
that's not the point Kason..

Richard Ian Jobity
All it takes for the average is one case of their losing their rights because of ignorance and seeing others profit.. Thereafter, you become VERY conversant with the laws...

Tracey Chan
We can't really afford to have that happen at the expense of an innocent...
Lord I need a moment/or 10 with all of these documents.
Thank you Jalaludin and Kevin for posting other links.

Kev, oh and TDC is very bold with their demands to own your copyright. They say it, outright. There is no doubt.

Mark Lyndersay
The clause of ownership has been in some competitions, but it has been deprecated as an option over the years. I've been involved with many photographic competitions that do not insist on any rights transfer at all, indeed, it is a condition of my participation. There is a lot that sensible corporations can get out of a photography competiition without making entrants bend over as they sign up.

Jason Baptiste
The Tourism Development Company (TDC) has noted the concerns raised in various fora over the inaugural amateur Divali Photography Competition now being advertised in the press.

In particular, we recognise that clause F of the press advertisement, which states that “all images submitted are the property of the TDC”, has raised a major area of concern.

The TDC would like to advise that in response to the concerns raised, regarding ownership of the photographs to be submitted to the competition, we have modified the wording of the press advertisement. Clause F of the rules for entry in the advertisement will now state that “only the winning images will become the property of the TDC”.

This competition was envisioned by the TDC as a vehicle for our citizens to show the world how families in Trinidad and Tobago celebrate Divali in their homes. It was not aimed at professional photographers, but as a way of recognising those amateur photographers among us who take the time and effort to decorate their homes to celebrate the Hindu Festival of Lights.

However, we would like to emphasise that in claiming ownership of the winning images the TDC is in no way negating rights of the photographer to be credited and recognised for his/her work.

The TDC has always been mindful, and is well aware, of the moral rights that ensue to photographers and other creative persons to receive due credit and recognition for their work in accordance with Section 18 (1) of the Copyright Act of Trinidad and Tobago.

Also, no image will be utilised by the TDC without the relevant contractual obligations. It should be noted that the TDC does not intend to collect these images for further commercial or promotional use beyond this competition.

Gary Jordan
Great information Mark, will share.

Camille King
Its not only a photography issue, even for student art competitions, I have asked to have work returned as the students' work hard on pieces, to then have them disappear. I was once told that the work usually ends up in a box in a store room where they get moldy and rot. Work has never been returned on these occasions and students don't want to enter competitions anymore. Nor does it encourage them to participate in competitions after they leave school. They understand copyright and the value of their work.

Mark Lyndersay
Thanks for recognising the concerns of photographers, Jason. In making your adjustments and clarifications, it still remains unclear why you need to have all rights to the work when a licensing contract for a range of anticipated uses over a reasonable time would offer the winning photographers recompense and recognition and allow the TDC to use the work to their advantage.
I remain adamantly opposed to the wanton and unnecessary seizure of copyright in circumstances that do not warrant it. Will these photographers understand that the photographs cannot be used by them in any way whatsoever afterward? That's what "becomes the property of" means.

Wyatt Gallery
I commend Jason and the TDC for replying to these concerns and altering there policies. I think this is a great example of technology creating better communication. Good work Mark for bringing this concern to the attention of the TDC and good work to the TDC for listening, and being flexible to change the policy.

Mark Lyndersay
It's more than I expected and less than I'd hoped.

Richard Ian Jobity
The power of Facebook apparently compelled the TDC to reply. Baby steps, baby steps...

Bertrand De Peaza
This discussion will make the rounds and the newbees hopefully will begin to understand this is
business, and not a part time , weekend extra etc.

Juma Bannister
Now getting to chime in, this is a small step in the right direction. I too commend the TDC's response but I still agree with Mark. Unfortunately this will turn up again in some other form until the culture of these things are changed. We just have to keep our eyes peeled.

Ian Reid
Encouraging response from TDC. BUT in the end all competitions of this nature are fraught with inequity.

Everyone should read this and join the movement:

Jason Baptiste
Mark, more than willing to discuss this further with you offline. again the intent was to celebrate those who take the time and effort to decorate their homes to celebrate the Hindu Festival of Lights. But we will listen with open ears to the concerns raised.
about an hour ago ·

Mark Lyndersay
I thank you for your willingness to listen, but I fear I must be frank in this matter. I have no doubt that if I had called the TDC or written a letter saying the very same things that began this conversation online, I would have been roundly ignored.
There would have been no need to respond to a lone, "disgruntled" photographer. I believe ... that the TDC reevaluated its position because of the overwhelmingly negative response to the terms of the competition by a surprising (even to me) number of persons.
I did not, as Wyatt put it, bring these concerns to the TDC, I put these concerns to a number of online communities in which I am active and they responded.
It was admirable of the TDC to respond to the concerns raised in these "fora" as you put it, but it would be rude of me to suddenly shut the door on a conversation that has only benefited from its articulation in the public domain.
about a minute ago.

Via e-mail...

John A Gioannetti
Mark, 2 points

1) TIDCO, now called Tourist Development Company has already used my photographs in publication without my permission

2) I may be mistaken, but most of the competitions in T&T are like that, your entry becomes their property, win or loose. I think its this way with BP competition and others I have seen. Even If I win, it should still be my Property

Also this may sound like sour grapes, but from what I have seen of winners in these competitions, the work is JUNK. Take the BP Competition Energy for Life, Some of the Judges have no Photography Training. The winning entry was CRAP, shot with a borrowed Point and Shoot with major exposure Flaws. The Entrant even pissed on the competition.

Would you ask me to judge a Ball Room Dancing Competition, or Ice Skating Competition

As usual, its the normal T&T Bull Shit, that starts from our Governance Come down and filters into all aspects of Society


Abigail Hadeed
Thank you fro brining this to our attention. i did not even know that there was any competition on.
My immediate thoughts are, how do we get this info in every newspaper before its too late, secondly does anyone have or know anyone who is connected to those mass emails i get from various bodies,( unfortunately they do not stay in my inbox more than a few seconds!) and can it be sent to them.
Finally, there must be some way to prohibit this from happening, i.e. call the copyright office and lodge a complaint??
I am happy to follow up if someone can tell me who where and what i can do>

John A Gioannetti
In Summary, the only way I see to do this effectively, is to have a PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION
Until such time, the crap that photographers in T&T have to be subjected to will continue
We are our own worst enemy

Alex Smailes
Send in fake and inappropriate ones with subtle photoshopped devils and legged penis's running around in background.
On Oct 14, 2009, at 12:54 PM, Gareth Jenkins wrote:
More tragic is the fact that there will now be a million new divali photos in the world jeez how many kid cupping deya shots does one planet need?

Jeffrey Chock
Bravo Mark! Is there a way that we can do something to make more people
aware of this scam? At present I am involved with the Min. of Culture in
mounting four exhibitions on Dance. They asked for thirty images per
exhibit. I have been careful, but i now smell a rat.
In negotiations, I made it clear that I was dealing with them an the basis of 'ONE TIME USE'. Now I
find that they have used only twelve of the images. I have asked asked what
happens to the other images. I have been told that they will be mounting
travelling Exhibitions for Schools. For this I made an exception. In
conversation with one of their officers, it slipped out that they are
planning a book on Dance using a Jamaican publication as a model.

This was inspired by Rex Nettleford. I have to diplomatically tell them that our
present arrangement does not cover the use of my images for that proposed
exercise. What do you think?

Elizabeth S. Meyer
I think you'll always have people so desperate to be published that they don't care about the pro's.

Via web comments...

Too bloody right Mark... what a disappointing lack of foresight. You can be sure the person who created the rules of engagement gave NO thought whatsoever to copyright and intellectual property at all... old time ting, old time ting.
sungoddess | Homepage | 10.14.09 - 2:01 pm | #

A couple years ago, an international singer was set to perform in a concert in Trinidad. There were some rumours floating around before hand that COTT wanted royalty fees...royalty for an artiste performing their own pieces. Really?
Jodo | 10.14.09 - 3:51 pm | #

Actually, Jodo, yes. Performing rights fees cover any performance of copyrighted works, even those by the artist. The person responsible for paying these fees is the promoter and the funds make their way back into the pockets of the artist in due course. For the promoter, it's a cost of doing business and no different than paying for playing a recording of the works at the event.
It's impractical to have exemptions to a process of collecting licensing rights. Much easier to enforce one rule that guarantees the expected return. Easy beats complicated every time.
Mark Lyndersay | Homepage | 10.14.09 - 7:22 pm | #
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