Apr 15, 2010

Tourism Australia wants you — and your intellectual property rights

Australia’s latest tourism campaign is all about you. And the crowd-sourced photos you're making freely available. What rights do you give up in return for helping promote Australia? Elizabeth Redman asks the experts.

Forget Lara Bingle, Australia’s latest tourism campaign is all about you. Tourism Australia is creating an online ‘mosaic’ of up to 15,000 crowd-sourced photos -- but what do you have to give up in return? Mainstream media coverage of the new campaign focused on the shift to a less offensive tagline -- 'There’s nothing like Australia' -- and the call for the public to help promote Australia as a tourism destination. The Age noted strict controls will be in place to moderate content posted to the website, and that copyright will be transferred to Tourism Australia. Look closely at the fine print, though, and it’s clear more is at stake here. The campaign is sourcing photos and stories about favourite holiday moments through a competition on its website that launched today. Prizes on offer include digital cameras, eight $5,000 holidays and one $25,000 holiday. Entrants must agree to a raft of stringent conditions, such as assigning all intellectual property rights in their entry to Tourism Australia, and consenting to any act that would otherwise infringe their moral rights. They also agree the group can use their entries for promotional and marketing purposes without attribution or compensation. The competition is also governed by the website’s general conditions. Under these, entrants agree that they don’t require attribution for their work, and that they may be held legally responsible for it. A quick Google search shows similar competitions run by government and commercial bodies feature some of these conditions, but rarely all of them at once. What’s more, they’re apparently becoming less common. “What you would see with most social networking-type sites at the moment is that they’re trending towards not taking ownership of copyright,” said Professor Brian Fitzgerald, Head of the Law School at Queensland University of Technology. “Many sites nowadays would not seek ownership of the copyright of the participant, they would just seek a broad licence to use it.” The default practice is to attribute content to its author, and there is a tendency to respect moral rights, Professor Fitzgerald told Crikey. Any attempt to override moral rights “should be closely scrutinised”. The first stage of the campaign will cost “just $4 million”, The Australian reported, though Tourism Australia plans to spend $150 million on it over the next three years. By contrast, the controversial 'Where the bloody hell are you?' campaign cost $40 million in its first four months and a further $140 million for its implementation over the following two years. The crowdsourcing element makes the new ads seem like “an attempt to have a low cost way of generating a campaign” according to John Selby, Lecturer in the Department of Business Law at Macquarie University. “The general public will choose not to enter if they don’t like the terms,” he told Crikey. And that’s what the tourism body is expecting. “We did a survey through Roy Morgan and 80% of Australians said they would like to get involved in promoting Australia to the world,” said a Tourism Australia spokesperson. “This is a competition that encourages them to do that. It aims to capture the passion of the Australian people and if they want to enter they can and if they don’t want to enter they don’t have to.” Professor Fitzgerald pointed out the competition was voluntary, and that adequate incentive was provided to enter it. “There is a fairly attractive prize that’s being offered,” he said, adding remuneration for creative work is always going to be an issue.

Free Trial

You've hit members-only content.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

12 thoughts on “Tourism Australia wants you — and your intellectual property rights

  1. Gavin Blue

    I doubt people who submit images for the competition are clear that their images can be used in campaigns by unrelated companies years from now and that people in the photos know the extent their likeness can go.

    It is not just the winning entries, but all entries that TA is taking the all the rights for.

    12. By entering the Promotion, Eligible Entrants acknowledge that their entry may be used by the Promoter, the Promoter’s related entities, agencies engaged by the Promoter, or any other third party nominated by the Promoter, for the Promoter’s current and future promotional and marketing purposes without further reference or compensation to them. Eligible Entrants unconditionally and irrevocably:
    (a) consent to any act or omission that would otherwise infringe any of their moral rights in their entry (as defined in Part IX of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)) and present and future rights of a similar nature conferred by statute anywhere in the world whether occurring before or after this consent is given (Moral Rights); and
    (b) waive all Moral Rights in their entry that arise outside Australia.

    45. Entrants agree and acknowledge that all entries and any intellectual property rights subsisting in their entries become and remain the property of the Promoter.

    People are keen to participate in promoting Australia, but not to donate their images to be used by “any third party nominated by the promoter”

    This is one of the worst Terms and Conditions I have ever seen in a Competition.

    Gavin Blue
    ACMP President
    Australian Commercial and Media Photographers

    2 other articles

  2. Jan Forrester

    Tourism Australia is taking advice from the legal eagles now advising major media organisations. These conditions are precisely those major media owners are now laying out in their freelance contracts. The only one missing is a prohibition on writing for a list of competitors media outlets (potential restriction of trade).
    Scenario: The blurb indicates compares one tourism venue/eatery/spa unfavourably with another they have tried. Will the entrant really understand that, under terms of the contract, what their obligations are if they are threatened with legal action? From what is included in the Crikey article Tourism Australia will take none and the writer will face all responsibility.
    I wonder if Tourism Australia is asking a savvy editor to edit content for free too. If not why not?

  3. robwalls

    Gavin Blue is right. I’ve followed these competition rights-grabbing scams for some time and Tourism Australia’s barefaced effort is the worst I’ve seen. Copyright! Where the bloody hell are ya?

    Other article here:

  4. Australian Copyright Council

    Following on from Robwalls question, “Copyright! Where the bloody hell are ya,” the Australian Copyright Council (which represents 23 of Australia’s creative industry peak bodies) agrees that Tourism Australia is out of line.

    As Gavin Blue rightly points out, the Terms and Conditions used in this competition are extreme – particularly disturbing given that Tourism Australia is a Government body.

    At the very least, the terms should be limited to a licensing arrangement, not a full assignment of copyright and waiver of moral rights for every single entrant.

    What these terms could mean, in effect, is that an entrant will have to ask Tourism Australia’s permission to make their grandmother a copy of their holiday happy snaps, or put one on their Facebook page.

  5. edcetera

    Good work bringing this to light Crikey.

    But even better work playing catch-up! This was mentioned and discussed both on my blog and on Mumbrella two weeks ago…

  6. Sandshoe

    it’s a rent-a-few-chooks scheme that a budding photographer (or more) will eventually pay for the privilege of entering to become a little sung & unpaid creative artist who eventually moves out of the family home & lives in the chook pen for their likely duration so they can rent front house out to a pack of government schmuckheads.

  7. james braund

    Sign away your family’s visual history, for use anywhere, in perpetuity – Hold me back, where the bloody hell do I sign..

  8. Smithee

    You can just see them sitting around the meeting room table as the marketing team gets excited: “We’ll run a competition, people contribute their pics, and we just give a prize for the best one. But the end result is a fantastic archive of images, with all right assigned to us !”

    “We get an image archive for almost nothing, loads of free publicity from the competition, and we make the original photographers legally liable !”

    * Chuckles and congratulations all around the table for such brilliance *

    Of course this is a marketing meeting so morals and ethics never figure in the discussion.

  9. LacqueredStudio


    Correct. Aside from the dodgy Terms & Conditions, there’s also the rank laziness of the marketing and advertising team, who’ve basically put their feet up here. Advertising creatives, instead of, you know … being creative like they’re supposed to, turn to crowd-sourcing with the ruse of hey, YOU could help create the next Tourism Australia campaign!! Job done, let’s go to lunch. Unfortunately, this sort of dereliction of creative duty is on the increase in the ad industry. Earn a fucking buck, you hacks.

  10. Gavin Blue

    The Australian Commercial Media Photographers (ACMP) and Australian Institute of Professional Photographers (AIPP) worked together through Brisbane photographer William Long to lobby Tourism Australia to change the Terms and Conditions. Tourism Australia have finally listened and the offensive conditions have been changed.

    The change was caused by the Associations working together and lobbying, serious disquiet from photographers across blogs, twitter and facebook, approaches by the Australian Copyright Council and the NAVA and a timely blog post and letter to TA by Andrew Coppin from (which has 11,000 members who are passionate about photography).

    Thanks to Tourism Australia for listening. A lesson in the power of Social Media.

    The AIPP and ACMP have a set of competition guidelines for organizations who wish to run photo competitions.

    For more info go to

    Gavin Blue
    ACMP President

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details