This past spring there was a contest to win a trip to Spain.  To enter one had to submit a picture they took while in Spain.  (Kinda hard if you have never been there!)  I had a good contest buddy who had been to Spain many times.  I emailed them and asked if I could submit a few of their pictures into the contest.  No problem.  I got a selection via email.  I picked the ones I thought were nice and sent in my entries.  It was a daily promotion, but I only entered a couple of times.  And then as with most contests, I forgot about it.

Recently, I got a panicked email from my friend.  They said they were one of the twenty finalists selected to go to a party, where one of the twenty would be awarded a trip to Spain.  But, why the panic?  Well, it seems that all the pictures my friend had of Spain were taken before they had a digital camera.  Since the didn’t expect to win (so why did they enter?!) they just “borrowed” a few pictures they found of Spain on the Internet.  Holy Moly!!  They couldn’t sign the release form stating they owned the picture and would grant the sponsor the rights to publish the picture.  They had to turn down the prize of the party and the opportunity to go to Spain.  They were very disappointed.

I couldn’t believe this happened because: 1) my #1 tip is to always read the rules, and the rules clearly stated you had to own the photo and 2) how could someone this close to me do something so silly when entering a contest?!

So, if you are entering a contest: 1) read the rules, and 2) ensure you are able to sign and and all release forms so you can legally claim the prize if you are selected as the potential winner.

Now, I also entered photos that were not mine.  However, since it was someone close to me, and if I used their original photo and won, I was fully prepared to take them to Spain with me.  Also, I could have signed the release forms as I would have had the original negative/digital copy.  Looking back, I am wondering if made the right decisionby asking my contest buddy to “borrow” their photos.

Was what my friend did wrong?  What if they had signed the release forms and went to the party?  Is what I did unethical too?  Some people feel entering friends and family is right either?  Where do you draw the line on what you and how you enter?