UPDATE

This policy has been updated as of 28/08/2018. You can find out more about this updated policy over at this link.

Original story follows below.

With Comic Con Africa less than a month away geeks, nerds and sundry are noticeably excited for the event.

Despite Jason Momoa no longer attending the event there is still something for everybody and it should be a fun-filled weekend.

As this is the first time an event such as this is being held in South Africa we decided to acquaint ourselves with the various policies put in place by Reed Exhibitions and we found a few worrying clauses in the existing Admission Policy.

Data collection?

Heading to the Admission Policy page you are met with the usual, “only pre-registered visitors who are badge holders, visitors who register onsite, and exhibitors who are badge holders will be able to attend the Event” which is pretty normal.

Further down however there is a clause related to data sharing.

By choosing to allow their badge to be scanned by an exhibitor or sponsor during the Event, visitors will be providing their name and contact details to the exhibitor or sponsor, who may contact them about their products or services.

It continues:

By choosing to attend any session in our seminar theatres, visitors will have their badge scanned at entry and their name and contact details shared with the seminar host/exhibitor, sponsor and/or speaker, who may contact them about their products or services in relation to such session.

Being concerned about our privacy we contacted Reed Exhibitions and asked about this clause.

“These are our standard Admission Policy clauses and refer predominately to our trade shows where all visitors are given bar coded badges containing their contact details – this does not apply to Comic Con Africa as it is a consumer event and visitors will not be receiving name badges which means their data cannot be collected by exhibitors unless they opt in by signing up for a competition for example,” a representative for Reed Exhibitions told us.

So simply put, this doesn’t apply to Comic Con Africa.

No photography?

Further into the policy there is a section labelled Photography and Recording which reads as such:

Official photographers and film crew will be taking photographs and recording and/or streaming videos at the Event. Each attendee authorises such photography and recording and permits the Organisers to use the attendee’s image, likeness and voice for archival and promotional purposes in any and all media, without liability, compensation or credit to the attendee.

This is a rather standard clause for most events. While it might shock some there is no easy way for Reed Exhibitions to get everybody who features in a panning shot of the venue on Saturday afternoon to sign a form that gives them permission to use your likeness in marketing material or the like.

What is concerning however, is this section:

No visitor to the Event may take photographs or make any form of recording (including audio or video) on any media at the Event under any circumstances without the prior written permission of the Organisers.

The organiser tells us that this is – once again – directed at trade events, and media will be able to take photos.

But here’s the problem, how are we meant to know that these clauses are only directed at trade events?

For instance, under the clause Activity it reads:

Anyone attending the Event must not take part in any canvassing, leafleting, demonstrations, objectionable behaviour or wear offensive apparel or be involved in any activity which may disrupt the Event.

This clause really needs to be defined more clearly especially when you consider that there will be cosplayers and fans walking around with clothing that some might find offensive. Does that mean I’ll get kicked out for wearing a Star Wars shirt because a Star Trek fan doesn’t like me? Probably not, but the inclusion of this clause means it could be enforced.

Changes inbound

Following our reading of the policy we raised our concerns with Comic Con Africa. A representative has told us that this Admission Policy will be changed soon to give attendees a better understanding of the rules.

“The generic Admission Policy clauses have been pulled through from our global policies for our trade events in particular – these will be updated on our side over the next few days. For questions regarding photography at Comic Con Africa you can refer to our FAQ’s on the website,” a Comic Con Africa representative informed us.

Those photography FAQs can be found here and these will be enforced at the event so be sure to acquaint yourself with them.

We’ll wait to see how the policy changes but really we feel the organisers should have sorted this out before publishing the policy online, and possibly causing concern for many attendees.

The organisers have told us numerous times that nobody will be kicked out for taking photos so that’s good news but let’s see what the updated policy looks like next week.

[Image – CC BY 2.0 Elliott Brown]