Is having your photo featured on Bing homepage enough reason to give up your rights?

The winner of Microsoft's newly launched photo contest will have their photo featured on the Bing homepage, but all entrants give up rights to their uploaded photos.

When a company creates a search engine that is so popular that it becomes a verb, who does a competitor hire to change the default behavior of the majority of web users? In the case of Microsoft, it hired social scientist Matt Wallaert to work with Bing. Wallaert was tasked "with figuring out ways to make it easier for Bing users to make decisions and take actions, as well as ways to wean people off the habit of automatically going to Google for their Web searches."

It remains to be seen if Wallaert can pull off such a big order, but Bing does have a great image search. In July, Bing added a "Search by License" feature to Bing images. This is especially handy when you need a photo with a Creative Commons license. Then today, to celebrate World Photography Day, Bing partnered with Discovery and launched a photography contest.

Bing's Hometown Homepage Photo Contest is meant to "highlight and capture the beauty of your hometown." It starts today and runs through September 3. The Bing blog states:

On September 10, we'll announce the top ten finalists and fans will be able to vote for their favorite on Facebook. The image with the most votes will be declared the winning picture and will be showcased on the Bing homepage (along with the talented photographer) on October 1. The winner will also receive a new Nokia Lumia 1020, 500px membership and canvas of the winning photo. But that's not all! The same day, Bing and The Nature Conservancy will celebrate the winner's creative contribution and hometown pride by hosting a day of service in their hometown.

As someone who loves great photos, I was tempted and went to the "new

Bing Homepage App on Facebook" where photos are submitted for the contest. The first thing that jumped out was that you can't upload without clicking "like." Instead, I clicked on several links such as the official rules [pdf] to discover it was seven pages long!

The rules state content restrictions such as, "The Photo must not contain material that violates or infringes another's rights, including but not limited to privacy, publicity or intellectual property rights, or that constitutes copyright infringement." While that wording may be standard practice for such contests, the irony is that by submitting an image, you give up your infringement rights to your photo. According to the official rules [pdf]:

Uploading a Photo constitutes entrant's consent to give Sponsor a royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive license to use, reproduce, modify, publish, create derivative works from, and display such submissions in whole or in part, on a worldwide basis, and to incorporate it into other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed, including for promotional or marketing purposes.

That is basically repeated again in the "Winner Requirements" section:

Acceptance of any prize shall constitute and signify winner's agreement and consent that Sponsor may use the winner's name, city, state, likeness, Photo and/or prize information in connection with the Promotion, worldwide, including the Internet, without limitation and without further payment or consideration, except where prohibited by law. Without limiting the generality of these Official Rules, winner shall irrevocably grant, transfer, convey and assign to Sponsor the entirety of the rights in and to the Photo and all renewals and extensions of copyright, and the right to secure copyright registrations thereto in perpetuity including, without limitation, the rights to use the Photo for any and all purposes in any and all media whether now known or hereafter developed, on a worldwide basis, in perpetuity.

Microsoft is a company known for aggressively pursuing copyright and IP (intellectual property) rights infringement. Heck, in July, Microsoft accused Microsoft of copyright infringement. Well, LeakID filed a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown request on behalf of Microsoft. Torrent Freak reported, "Instead of listing URLs of infringing material, Microsoft asked Google to remove links to their own websites, as can be seen below. The six links point to Microsoft's store, support pages and product descriptions. A pretty embarrassing mistake to say the least. Whoops."

Now back to Bing's Hometown Homepage Photo Contest . . . each person can submit two images, so how many potential photos will that total? Wow, Microsoft could collect thousands of "free" images. Go for it if you want. Bing does have superb images on its homepage. It just seems a shame that Microsoft would strip Bing's Hometown Homepage Photo Contest entrants of their rights. I suppose if you want to play, then that is the price you must pay.

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