The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) wants you to share your photos and add a special hashtag. You’ll have a chance of getting featured on MoMA’s social media, but there’s a catch. You’ll also win an exclusive opportunity for MoMA to use your photos whenever and however they want.
In a blog post, the museum invites you to join the MoMA Photo Club in honor of National Photography Month and the new exhibition Fotoclubismo: Brazilian Modernist Photography, 1946–1964. MoMA prepares a new photo challenge every month, encouraging you to get creative.
“Share your own Abstractions from Nature—take a closer look at the world around you,” the May photo challenge reads. “How can you photograph something familiar in nature from a new perspective? Try zooming in; make it hard to guess what it is you’re capturing. Notice textures, search for new shapes, and play with angles.”
So, what should you do? It’s simple, take your photos and post them on social media with the #MoMAPhotoClub hashtag. MoMA writes in bold that this enables select photographers to have their photos featured on its social channels, the MoMA website, and on digital screens in select New York City subways.
But there’s a fine print, and don’t forget to always read the fine print!
“By tagging photos using #MoMAPhotoClub, you grant The Museum of Modern Art (“MoMA”) (and those authorized by MoMA) a royalty-free, worldwide, perpetual, sublicensable, non-exclusive license to publicly display, distribute, reproduce, and create derivative works of such photos, in whole or in part (including, but not limited to, any associated captions and handles), in any media now existing or later developed, for any purpose, including, but not limited to, advertising and promotion, and inclusion on MoMA’s website and social media channels.”
Thankfully, the fine print is right there under the main text, so it’s not that easy to miss. Still, MoMA publishes the featured images on its Instagram page, where there’s no fine print to warn photographers about the rights they’re giving away.
Using photos “for any purpose” means exactly that – for any purpose. And yes, this can mean commercial purpose as well. Personally, I wouldn’t like anyone other than myself making money off of my work I gave them for free.
Mickey H. Osterreicher, General Counsel for the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), commented on this “MoMA Photo Club” and its terms and conditions too. He believes that this kind of copyright grab will hurt photography greatly.
“You’ve got a museum that’s supposed to value creative work, whether it’s by an artist with a paintbrush or a sculptor with a chisel, or a photographer with a pro camera or even just an iPhone,” he told PetaPixel. “We all recognize some incredible images that are made hundreds if not thousands of times a day by people using their iPhones and it’s very creative work and it certainly has value. To make it seem very open and friendly while in the meantime the fine print says that you’re granting all these rights not only for them to use them, but to use them into perpetuity to be able to sublicense them and to be able to use them for advertising and promotion is very disappointing.”
Osterreicher added something I find to be a great comparison. He believes that it’s not likely that the MoMA would ask painters to send in their paintings. So, why is it okay to ask photographers the same thing? Do you think it’s okay?