Photographer Judge Resigns from 'Contest'

On 19th December we published a story about Random House Group, the largest general interest trade publisher in the world. They want photographers to supply, for free, a cover photograph for a new edition of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist story. Random House presented the 'work for free' project as a 'competition' entitled "shoot a cover for a new Vintage edition of Oliver Twist". However, it is a competition with no prize for the winner, nor any payment for work done, nor any royalties for the use of the winners work, the winner also has to waive their moral rights. Three judges were originally listed for this contest, now only two are listed.


The two remaining judges are Simon Callow, the well known English actor, writer and theatre director, and Random House Creative Director Suzanne Dean.

Originally a third judge was listed, professional photographer Simon Larbalestier. Following the publication of our story a number of photographers wrote to Simon to bring the terms and conditions of the 'competition' to his attention. He was horrified, instantly resigned as a judge and gave us permission to publish this statement -

"A rights-free perpetual licence where the image can be modified/edited at any point in the future is totally unacceptable for me as a photographer and to be associated with this a competition promoting this type of "image abuse" actually damages my international reputation as as photographer and ethically as a photographic educator. I am therefore withdrawing my position as a judge with immediate effect."

It took four days after his resignation before his name was removed by the Guardian Newspaper from the list of judges. If Random House tried during these four days to find another photographer judge for this 'competition' they have failed to do so.

This leaves one freelance artist on the judging panel, Simon Callow. He may have been selected as a judge for this 'contest' because Random House UK have published some of Simon's books. It is very likely that Simon Callow is also unaware of the terms and conditions of this contest nor knows that a fellow artist has already resigned from the judging panel.

We would advise people to contact Simon and bring these T&Cs to his notice; that the photographer is to create a work as per terms of the brief, that they will not be paid, that they are to waive their moral rights, and they will receive no royalties. We have no direct contact details for Simon Callow but his agents can be contacted as follows;

Simon's literary agent is The Hanbury Agency and they can be contacted at

According to THE HANDBOOK Simon's agent for Commercial Bookings and Appearances is Conway Van Gelder Grant Ltd and they can be contacted via or

Revised Terms and Conditions

On 23 December we received an email from Random House Group thanking us for our complaint email and to indicate that the terms and conditions had been "clarified" on their website. We have highlighted below, in yellow, the additional text Random House added to the terms and conditions.

10. By submitting an entry to the Competition, You grant GNM and the Random House Group Ltd:

a. Permission for your entry to be published on and a non-exclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free, worldwide, perpetual licence (with a right to sub-license), to use, republish, edit and/or modify your Competition entry in any/all media (including in electronic format and hard copy) for purposes connected with the Competition and as described in these terms and conditions; and

b. The right to use your name and town or city of residence for the sole purpose of identifying You as the author of your entry and/or as a winner of the Competition.

You also hereby waive all your moral rights in your entry.
Notwithstanding the afore-going waiver, in order to use entries as intended and advised in these Terms and Conditions (i) GNM and the Random House Group Ltd may need to modify entries, including but not limited to resizing, cropping or colour adjustment as necessary, provided that GNM and the Random House Group Ltd shall endeavour in undertaking such modifications to maintain the integrity of your entry as originally created; (ii) GNM and the Random House Group Ltd shall use their best endeavours to provide a picture credit for all entries; and (iii) with specific regard to the winning entry, the Random House Group Ltd shall credit the name of the winning photographer on the back cover of each book on which the entry appears.

The Prize

15. One winner will have his/her photograph printed on the cover of Vintage Classics' new edition of the novel "Oliver Twist", which is expected to be published in March 2012. However, please note that the exact publish date is to be confirmed and may be changed.

16. Please note that the licence You grant under paragraph 10 of these terms and conditions means that you will not be entitled to receive any royalties or any other kind of payment in the event that your photo is selected as the winner and is used for the cover of the "Oliver Twist" novel as referred to in this terms and conditions.

26. The Promoter of the Competition is Guardian News & Media Limited whose address is Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Any complaints regarding the Competition should be sent to this address.

What the Revised Terms and Conditions Mean

Under the revised terms and conditions note that; 1) There is still no prize 2) moral rights must still be waived 3) the photographer will not be paid for his work in creating the cover photograph 4) the photographer will receive no royalties from the sale of books using their photograph. However, they will now receive a credit on the back cover.

Random House insist that there is a prize, in reply to one of the complainants Random House Group said -

"The prize is winning the competition and having the photograph used on the cover of the new edition of Oliver Twist with a credit on the back cover"

This is not a prize, it is quite simply, an appeal, as a charity might make, for volunteers to work for free. Random House is not a charity, it is a private enterprise and should be paying for the resources it needs to run its business.

Send your complaints to Random House Group at and cc it to the Guardian Newspaper at .