The IPPA Blog | The Blog of The Irish Professional Photographers Association

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Facebook have completely changed the rules around Facebook competitions in the past couple of weeks. I have seen so many photographers pages continue to flout the rules and put themselves in danger of being unceremoniously shut down.

The great news is that Facebook have completely changed their promotion and competition guidelines, and the new rules have huge implications. The biggest being that pages can now continue doing what they’ve been doing, but it is now actually allowed. Well, most of it.  I’ve outlined the changes below, as well as the pros and cons of running a competition straight from your wall vs via an application.

The biggest and most important change is that you can now run competitions/promotions straight from your Timeline. Previously pages were only able to run competitions through applications, not directly on their page timeline (though many didn’t actually know this was the case). This has now changed, and along with it Facebook are allowing entries via Comments and Likes.

So what does all that mean?

You are now officially allowed to publish a post to your Page that says “Want to win €1000? Like this to enter.” Or post a photo and say ‘Caption this pic for your chance to win”. What has changed you may be thinking? It’s likely you saw loads of competitions similar to this in the past anyway.  And it’s highly likely that’s why Facebook changed the rules – pages simply weren’t adhering to their previous guidelines anyway. That being said, some pages continue to break the rules by posting competitions that require people to share things to their wall to enter the competition. To break it down for you, here’s an overview of what you now can and can’t do with Facebook competitions:

What you can do:

  • Run competitions through your Page wall/timeline (through a post) and/or via an application
  • Allow people to enter your competition via commenting or liking your post
  • Allow people to enter your competition via direct message to the Page
  • Allow people to enter your competition by posting on your wall
  • Use ‘likes’ as a voting mechanism – ie. people can vote for their favourite entry by simply liking it

What you still cannot do:

  • Administer a competition on a personal timeline, it must be done on a business page
  • Require or encourage people to tag themselves in content they are not depicted in
  • Require or encourage people to post or share anything to their personal timeline

These new rules mean that it is so much easier, particularly for small businesses with small social budgets, to run competitions through their Pages quickly and cheaply. But in some cases, it may still be preferable to use an application. Here’s a run-down of the pros to each method:

Why use an app to run your Facebook contest?

  • It allows a more personalized and branded experience
  • There is more flexibility in terms of content you can provide and interactivity
  • You can collect more data from entrants – eg. their email addresses, business names etc.
  • You can require the opting into a newsletter to expand your database
  • You can like-gate the competition – ie. Entrants must like your page to enter (thus better opportunity to grow your community)
  • You can easily keep all entries in one place for your community to share, like and vote on (ie. Gallery)
  • You can prompt entrants to share their entry with friends after they have entered, increasing viral exposure (and you have control over the message that is being shared)
  • Easier to collate all entries and entrants’ details in one place for judging*


Why use your business page to run your Facebook contest?

  • Faster and easier
  • Cheaper to run – no requirement to pay for third-party apps or pay a developer
  • Easier for entrants to enter, thus likely to gain more entries
  • Potential for greater viral exposure via post showing up in entrants’ newsfeeds who have liked/commented
  • No mobile compatibility issues

Of course, if you want to get the best of both worlds you can always use both an application and your wall to run your competition. If you want to check out Facebook’s new promotion guidelines in more detail, you can do so here.

Hope this helps!



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Orphan Works Legislation

ORPHAN works legislation caused a bit of a stir in the US when an attempt was made to introduce it. The push to do so has petered out – for the time being. Now, though, the EU has launched its own bid to put in place rules governing the use of intellectual property whose creator is unknown.

The EU’s proposal is to allow public institutions to use orphan works in their collections without payment. Given the pressures already on photographers to give up their copyright in their work, such a law could, if implemented without proper forethought, further erode their position. With the help of specialist intellectual property lawyer Linda Scales, the IPPA recently made a submission to the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation raising concerns about such legislation.

Photographers are particularly susceptible to having the rights in their work stripped from them. In particular, where authors of books, for instance, are able to exert their moral right to be identified as the creator of their writing, photographers are rarely afforded this courtesy. We can all point to instances in which our work was used without our name appearing beside it. Worse, as Linda Scales highlighted in her submission, “Commercial and public entities, when commissioning photographs, demand a moral rights waiver almost as a matter of course.”

Matters aren’t helped by the ease with which metadata can be stripped out of a digital file. Even if you embed your details, there is no guarantee they will travel with a file throughout its lifespan, increasing the likelihood the photograph will be orphaned.

It won’t come as a surprise that the IPPA feels strongly that “any proposal which involves the use of orphan photographs should be preceded or accompanied by appropriate action to ensure that it is possible in future to identify the authors of photographs.” To achieve this, the IPPA is insisting that a photographer’s paternity right in their work is made unwaivable by law. At the same time, the association opposes any proposal to make orphan works available while the basic conditions for photographers to assert their rights are remain as ineffective as they currently are.

One of the key parts of the proposed directive permits public institutions to put material online without any conditions attached, without the application of effective technological measures, and without anyone to monitor or pursue unauthorised uses once they are online. Problem is, once photographs appear on a website, it is impossible to protect them from being harvested for unauthorised use. Retrospectively recalling them from the worldwide web should the copyright holder step forward is not going to be possible. The damage will have been done.

Worse, the proposed legislation would permit the use of orphan works without payment of remuneration by the institutions when acting in pursuit of their “public interest mission”. That is a very broad term. In reality, it can cover pretty much any activity. The IPPA is keen on a tighter definition and the stipulation that such use should be non-commercial.

Even agreed commercial use of such works, with retrospective remuneration should the author or rights holder come forward to claim their orphaned work, could be problematic. The current copyright regime in Ireland lacks any suitable framework to accommodate such a mechanism. Ireland also lacks any kind of database or database manager that could catalogue and maintain an overview of orphaned works.

The whole issue of the proposed orphan works legislation is muddied somewhat by the fact that it doesn’t mention individual, standalone photographs aren’t mentioned. In fact, you have to dig a little in the draft text to find any reference to photography at all. It looks as if, certainly initially, only photographs embedded in published literary works that are themselves orphan works will be affected by the directive.

The IPPA has raised a trio of concerns in that regard. Firstly, the indirect manner in which embedded works are referred to in the proposal is unsatisfactory. If the intention is genuinely to include these works, specific provision should be made in the draft. Next, just because a photograph appears in an orphaned work doesn’t mean the photograph itself is orphaned. And lastly, a photographer must be able to stake their claim to their work independently of the author of the orphaned work it appears in.

At a time when professional photographers are under increasing pressure to handover all rights in their work, it is more important than ever to stand up for our copyright. The IPPA will be keep a keen eye on the progress of any suggested changes to Irish and EU copyright law.

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