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.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey