Friday, 8 October 2010

UK Reader's Digest Competition - Watch for Copyright

The UK edition of Reader's Digest is running a competition for a 100-word story. The story has to be 100 words exactly. Stories of 99 words will be rejected.

The story that appeals most to the panel of judges will win £5,000, with the two runners up winning £100 of book tokens. All three will be printed in the Reader's Digest.

However, you should always read the terms and conditions of a competition.

Further information can be found here.

Full details of terms and conditions can be found here.

NOTE: "Contributions become world copyright of Vivat Direct Ltd (t/a Reader's Digest)." The terms and conditions of this competition state that the copyright of ANY ENTRY SUBMITTED INTO THE COMPETITION will become the property of Reader's Digest and its parent company.


I just wanted to clarify that it is not the writers of the winning entries who lose their copyright - but every writer who submits an entry who will lose their copyright in their creation.


  1. Seriously. This sort of thing puts me at risk of spontaneous combustion. The Telegraph travel writing competition has - or used to have - a similar term, and I removed it from the Mistakes Writers Make blog because of it. It's a disgrace - and a name as well known to writers as the RD should be thoroughly ashamed of itself. What can we do? I'll RT for a start. Grrrrr.

  2. To clarify, the Telegraph travel writing competition does not request copyright, but "a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual licence ... to feature any or all of the submissions in any of its publications, its websites and/or in any promotional material connected to this competition". In other words, if I'm understanding correctly, "we can do what we want with it for ever - but so can you". No payment is mentioned for these eternal uses. Bad enough.

    In the RD case, you can't do anything with your submission - if so, you'd be breaching RD's copyright, and they could pursue you for it. That includes even putting it on your website. Just to be clear...

  3. Can I just clarify?
    If, by some stretch of my wildest imagination, I happen to write 100 words of pure gold, which Spielberg then wants to make into a blockbuster movie, starring Brangelina, do I lose all rights to everything associated with my story?
    I only ask because I have good feeling about this 100 words.
    Ever the optimist.

  4. Hi Simon!

    Really important to take note of terms and conditions like this. About to do a blog on unusual competitions which I tend to keep an eye out for.

    Was planning to include this competition:
    But as you will see the declaration you have to agree to says,
    'I hereby permit Baillie Gifford & Co, as the copyright owner, and The Telegraph to reproduce this essay in any form without the need to obtain my permission.'

    Don't think anyone should ever have to agree to having their work taken away from them or used without permission! I could use stronger words on the matter but instead I will try and emphasis your point by saying DON'T DO IT!

    If you are putting your best piece of work into a competition do you really want to risk losing your rights to it?

  5. @ Sue - Yes, I believe you do. Didn't JK Rowling argue successfully about owning rights to her characters? Same would apply. Spielberg would pay RD. They wouldn't even need to give you a credit.

    @ Catherine - really look forward to seeing your blog. Thanks for bringing that one to my attention. I've a section reserved for copyright/legal issues on my own blog and yesterday's fury has motivated me to get cracking on it. It's the T&Cs you need to read, though. Look at term 7. It's pretty much the same as that of the competition I mentioned above. They've added this line, though, just to clarify the other point I mentioned re: payment: "Entrants will not receive remittance for such publication, though their work will be credited."

  6. @ Alex G - Maddening! I didn't find so many unusual competitions this time but my blog is here:

  7. Goodness, that does sound 'well dodgey'. I guess you'd accept that to win the £5,000 you'd be selling the copyright to the story, but to have the copyright taken even if you didn't win is OUTRAGEOUS! Thanks for flagging this up Simon.