Monday, 21 March 2016

Everyone's A Loser

Alex Gazzola’s excellent Mistakes Writers Make blog commented last week about a competition Vogue are running, for journalists under 25. And the classic copyright clause that all writers should be aware of pops up in the terms and conditions. Rule 3 states “Copyright of all entries belongs to Conde Nast Publications Ltd.”

Chatting about this to writer friends the other day, one of them commented, “Yes, but the winner gets £1,000 and the runner up wins £500.” This is correct. They do. And if you’re happy to sell the copyright in the two 800-word articles and three 200-word pitches you have to produce for that much money, then that’s your decision.

However, the rule wasn’t saying that the winners would be selling their copyright. The rule says that the copyright in EVERY entry rests with Conde Nast Publications Ltd, not just the top two. So, by simply entering this competition you are handing over the copyright in your 800-word articles and 200-word pitches to Conde Nast. You don’t have to win to lose your copyright. You just have to enter. 

Once you’ve submitted your entry you won’t be able to do anything else with it without getting permission from the copyright holder: Conde Nast. You can’t send them to any other publications. You can’t even put them on your own blog or website.

This is why it is so important to read all the rules of a competition. Competition rules are a contract, so it’s vital that you understand their implications. If there are any terms or conditions you don’t understand then get in touch with the competition organisers. Seek clarification. A competition organiser can impose whatever terms and conditions they like - it’s their competition, after all. (Whether Vogue really need copyright in every entry is another matter.) But it is the entrant’s responsibility to ensure they are fully aware of the rights they are granting when submitting an entry into a competition.


Good luck.

6 comments:

  1. A few years ago these 'enter and you lose your copyright' were used on a few fiction competitions too, Simon, but I'm pleased to say I haven't seen any similar recently.
    It seems to be applied to article competitions predominantly.

    I know from talking about such terms with newer writers at my local club, many don't understand the implications, and are surprised when it's explained.

    Read the rules/terms & conditions and understand them is a phrase that every writer should follow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Funnily enough, what it seems to apply predominantly to is photography competitions and other calls for images - Snapper Simon beware! Check the Artists Bill of Rights site - http://artists-bill-of-rights.org

      Delete
  2. Good for you, Carol, for explaining them! The more people know, the better. As I said, the competition organisers can impose whatever terms they like - it is their competition. But if nobody enters then their competition will have been a failure, won't it?

    And, yes, Alex, I enter very few photographic competitions, because so many ask for copyright of all entries, and I'm not prepared to do it. Snapper Simon does what he does because the BBC's T&Cs only ask for non-exclusive usage, and should a commercial opportunity arise they'll get back in touch to discuss terms. And all broadcast images are eligible under the DACS payback scheme (which is the photographic version of ALCS).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly, Simon.

      Terms need to be fair to both sides, and those that are will get good work submitted.

      Delete
  3. A good point made, and got across well Simon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Maria. It's so important to be careful!

      Delete