It has become an ugly feature of some photography competitions, that the authors of winning entries will be made to forfeit the copyright of the image in exchange for a (sometimes paltry) prize.
This can mean that the organisers of the competition, and/or their sponsors get free, often unlimited, worldwide use of the photo in advertising campaigns for as long as they want. Had they had to pay the photographer, or an agent, to license the use of that image - the cost could have outweighed the value of the prize, many times over.
And, more importantly, (something that many aspiring prize-winners do not appreciate) your wonderful image now belongs to the competition sponsor - you won't be allowed to enter it in another competition, sell it to anyone, and you may even have to ask for permission to send a copy to your Auntie Mabel as a Christmas present!
It's bad enough that these conditions apply a lot of photographs that win competitions. Even more worryingly, some competitions have been known to impose these rules on all of the photographs that are entered!
It's great to be rewarded with a prize for your talent - but make sure that you read the fine print before sending in your entries.
For those living in the London (UK) area, a seminar called "Great Picture and Small Print - Don't Lose Rights in Competitions" is being held on the 9th September 2008 6pm - 9pm
at: The October Gallery, 24 Old Gloucester St, London, WC1N 3AL.
Own-it and Pro-Imaging have invited four experts in their field, a solicitor, an award-winning photographer and two competition organisers, who will give you an overview of the legal framework, and how to avoid pitfalls when entering competitions.
More information can be got from the Own-it website - see my links list.