Microsoft caught with its copyright pants down

When Microsoft makes a marketing gaffe it nearly always snowballs into a big to-do. As reported by Cnet's Digital Media blog, Microsoft has a competition up on its MSN U.K. site in which entrants search for

other people's online pictures (using Live Search) and submit the ones they consider to be iconic of Britian (the competition is named "Iconic Britain"). The winners would receive a Nikon camera. However, the winners would be the people searching for the photos - not the actual photographers of the pictures that get chosen. The photographers nary get a mention, not even a picture credit, according to Digital Media.

This raised the hackles of many photographers including Pro-Imaging, which describes itself as "international support for professional image creators." It complained to Microsoft, which on Aug. 1 issued a statement (posted on Pro-Imaging's Web site) saying: "We have since taken steps to obtain the rights to use every image to be featured in the subsequent stages of the Iconic Britain competition. We also welcome the invitation by Pro-Imaging to discuss with them best practices when using photographs in similar competitions."

Too bad that Nikon had already washed its hands of the whole deal. According to a Nikon statement posted on Pro-Imaging's site, the  photographic equipment maker says it will fulfill its prize commitment to the winners, " however it will not be associated with the competition going forward."

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