Sheriff Court Defamation Case vs Marcus McAdam T/A Skye Photo Academy
In late 2018, two blog articles were published by Marcus McAdam (t/a Skye Photo Academy) concerning Nick Hanson’s disqualification and shared widely on social media. The contents of the articles were false and as a result, the Competition and its founder raised a defamation action in the Sheriff court against Mr McAdam. The Competition places on record that shortly before the action was due to proceed, the action was settled out of court on 6th August 2019 and a substantial damages payment was received.
Nick Hanson disqualification and fraudulent use of titles
Nick Hanson is not entitled to refer to himself in any way, personal or commercial, as winner or runner up of the Competition and has been made aware that to do so is fruadulent.
The Competition wishes to make the following statements.
The Competition stresses in the strongest terms that it does not take the decision to disqualify an entrant lightly. The Competition is designed to promote photographers and thrives to remain professional in its dealings with the public.
There has been much debate and speculation on social media in relation to the Competition’s decision to disqualify one of its entrants (Nick Hanson) from the Overall Winner’s Title. The Competition can only advise that in addition to the evidence it has of the rule breaking, it has on record that it made considerable efforts to avoid the route of disqualification, but despite those efforts, Mr Hanson would not respond to any of the Competition’s offers of resolution and refused to abide by the rules.
The Competition stresses that Mr Hanson did not dispute the reasons for his disqualification and nor did he make any appeal against them.
Rule 14 (ii)
The rule that requires each entrant to warrant that they are the sole author of each entry and the explanation that images captured at workshops or 1-2-1’s are not eligible for entry to the Overall Winner Title has been in place since the inaugural Competition in 2014. Claims published on social media that this rule was introduced and changed to facilitate the disqualification of Mr Hanson are false.
Prior to confirming any overall winner, the organisers conduct an interview to go over the rules with them, complete a checklist and confirm they understand and abide by the rules. Mr Hanson’s interview was extremely lengthy due to his insistence to go over the rules in fine detail. The Competition has it on record that he fully understood the rules and in particular Rule 14 (ii) with all it’s interpretations concerning workshops and 1-2-1s. Mr Hanson as is now known, changed the account of how his images were captured.
Commercial Gain and Profiteering
Allegations have been made on social media against the Competition and it’s founder (Stuart Low), that the purpose of the Competition is for financial gain and are therefore “making a fortune” from entrant’s images. This is absolutely false.
The Competition is run on a not for profit basis and exists to promote the photographers who enter, through the exhibitions and its annual year book. The entry fees it receives fund cash prizes, fund exhibitions, prints and various expenses needed to run the Competition. The remaining entry fees are used for the production of the annual year book. However, there is usually a shortfall, which is met by the founder personally.
There is a panel of judges and others who are involved with the organisation of the Competition, all of whom are involved on a voluntary basis.
The Competition works with a variety of partners who stock the books in their shops or online. The online partners take transaction fees and the remaining sale proceeds are re-invested into the Competition. The bookshops sell most of the Competition’s annual book and they keep all of the sale proceeds from those books they have sold.
Exhibitions and benefits to the entrants
The exhibitions it puts on attract considerable interest from the public and provide an excellent platform for entrants to showcase and promote their work. The Competition puts on around 6 exhibitions per year at locations where there is guaranteed high footfall (i.e. during the Edinburgh Festival). During those exhibitions, the Competition wishes to make clear that it provides a facility for the public to purchase the work of those on display and those enquiries are sent direct to the photographer. The photographer makes their own sale and keeps 100% of the money they make.
Benefits for all entrants
The Competition also provides a cost price print service and a facility for entrants to advertise their workshops or their own books on the official shop for all entrants. When these prints, workshops or books are sold, the photographer who owns their product or service keeps 100% of the profits. It should also be noted that where books are sold in trust shops such as the John Muir Trust, all the profits from book sales are kept by the trust and the money is used to fund the work the trusts do in maintaining our landscapes.
Founder’s and Sponsor’s contributions
Without the contribution of the sponsors and the founder, Stuart Low, the Competition would not exist. The Sponsors and the founder wish to promote photographers using the Competition as a platform to allow photographers to exercise their talent and publish their work to as wide an audience as possible.
Mr Low has had bereavements in the past two years and suffered ill health. Through all of that, he has endeavoured to keep the Competition running. This is because he is a passionate photographer and recognises that there are not enough platforms to promote many talented photographers.”