I recently won a photo contest in a German magazine without participating in the contest. How?
A few months ago I got an email from the German "Land und Meer"-magazine, telling me that I won the first prize in their yearly photo contest. My first thought: "Wow, this is great!". My second thought: "Wait... I did not participate in any contest... What's going on here? Spam? Or is someone creatively trying to steal my work?".
Like most people, I'm very precarious with emails like these since they could very well be run by some scammer. After some emailing between the publisher and myself, it turned out that someone had taken my photo from a website and submitted it as an entry for the photo contest. Thankfully, the editors figured out that the person who submitted the entry was not the owner of the image. Since this image won the contest, the editors tried to find the actual owner of the photo. They eventually found my website through an image search engine and figured out that I was the owner of the winning image. And, I figure, the person who submitted the photo could not possibly have sent in a photo of printable quality.
In the end, because someone stole my work, I won a brand-new camera and I got published in this magazine (link below). Hooray! A very strange turn of events and, most importantly, hats off to the editor(s) who caught the culprit and figured out the real owner! It makes me happy to know there are still people out there who care about copyright.
Link to Land und Meer 2017: https://issuu.com/landundmeer/docs/landundmeer2017/8