The body that provides official statistics to the UK Government has launched a photo competition requiring entrants to hand over all photographic copyright.

Amateur Photographer is seeking clarification and comment on the terms of a competition that aims to ?encourage more people from Black and Minority Ethnic communities to fill in next year?s census?.

Run by the Office for National Statistics, in partnership with camera maker Olympus, the project urges participants to relay ?their most amazing, amusing or touching story? using two photos and up to 500 words.

The rules of the ?Then and now: family stories? contest state: ?Upon submission the entrant agrees to transfer the copyright for any images and content to ONS. This will ensure proper control over the copyright and protect the entrant from inappropriate or illegal use of their images.?

The conditions add that winning images will be published on the official census website and potentially at ?public venues of the ONS?s choice?.

Bob Hobbs, a campaigner on intellectual property rights at, expressed doubt as to how transferring copyright to the ONS ensures ‘proper control over the copyright and protects the entrant from inappropriate or illegal use of their images’.

He added: ‘More worrying perhaps is the fact that there appears to be nothing in the competition rules about both photos being yours – so people could be digitising other people’s work.’

Competition prizes include an Olympus E-PL1 digital camera.

The judging panel includes a BBC TV presenter.

Photos can be submitted via the Government?s census website, the ONS website or by using the census group pool account on Flickr, the image sharing website.

The terms add that all images uploaded to the 2011 Census website and Flickr will be deleted from any ONS databases and records by 31 August 2011.

Neither the ONS nor Olympus were available for comment at the time of writing.

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