Entering a creative competition is a good way to get your name out to the public, test your skills or win some extra cash. On the other hand, it is a great way for an organisation to promote their brand while having you do a piece of creative work for them. In that respect, it can be a bit of a win-win or lose-win situation. Below, we outline some key issues you should first consider before entering into a creative competition.

Read the Fine Print

When you enter a creative contest, you will be entering into a contract. Typically, your entry form will include the terms of the contract. Otherwise, the entry form will ask you to “agree” to the terms and conditions of entry, listed in a separate document. It is important you track down and read the terms and conditions before you “agree” to the terms of entry.

Upon agreeing to the terms and conditions, you will be obliged to comply with them. Breaching a condition may disqualify you and you may lose your entry fee or even expose yourself to litigation.

Eligibility Requirements

A term of entry will usually include eligibility criteria. Look out for things like minimum age requirements and perhaps relationship to those who are running the competition.

Personal Details

It is not uncommon that the conditions of entry will ask for your consent to have your name, photo and other details used in a certain way. For example, if you win, your photo and other information about you may be published. You should read this clause carefully. It is your personal information they are asking to use and, especially if you are a private person, you don’t want it used in any way that will make you uncomfortable.

Copyright

You might be aware that copyright subsists, amongst other things, in literary and artistic work that is presented in a material form. Therefore, in entering a creative competition, it is likely that you will be creating work that will automatically attract copyright protection. As the creator of copyright work, you will have the exclusive right to distribute and amend your work. However the terms of entry, or implied terms of entry, may alter your exclusive rights – so be alert!

Express or implied copyright licence

When you hold the copyright, you have the right to allow others to use your work. This is commonly known as licensing your copyright. Licensing your copyright can be done on express terms negotiated by you or by implication. It is of note that in licensing your copyright, you will still retain copyright ownership of your work.  

Submitting your work to a competition does not, in itself, strip you of your copyright privileges, unless there is a condition in the terms which states that you agree to assign or transfer copyright to the competition organiser, which we discuss below.  

There may also be a clause upon entry that states the competition host or organiser will be able to use, disseminate and reproduce your work for certain purposes or in their discretion. Upon agreeing, you can be giving them licence to distribute your work in a certain way that the terms of entry will govern. The terms of entry may also list any time and jurisdiction restrictions on the licence.

There may also be an implied licence, in that, the competition might represent that they intend to publish the creative works of winners in various ways. In this situation, it is likely you have given them a licence to distribute your work by implication.  

Assigning or transferring your copyright

When you assign or transfer your copyright, you are giving up your right to control how it used in the future. In this situation, it is important you read the terms of entry and see if there is a clause about assigning your rights to copyright, whether upon entry or upon winning the competition. This may sway you in your decision to enter the competition in the first place.

Moral Rights

It is important you understand your moral rights. Even if you have assigned your work to the competition host, as the creator of copyright work, you will always have moral rights, and they cannot be assigned, though they can be waived.  

Moral rights were introduced in 2000 and are governed by the Copyright Act 1968. Moral rights protect you by ensuring you are always attributed as author/creator and protect the integrity of your work. However, you can “consent” to particular treatment of your work – that is, waive your moral rights in specific ways. These waivers, if any, will be set out in the terms of entry also.

Warranties

It is common that upon entry to the competition, you will be asked to declare and provide assurance that the creative work is your work and not the work of a third party. It is often framed as a warranty and accompanied by an indemnity clause, whereby if you breach the warranty you will be obliged to pay for any loss resulting from the breach. In this case, ensure the work is yours as failure to do so can expose you to significant liability and loss of reputation for plagiarism and other breaches of copyright by you.

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Creative competitions are an excellent way to get your name out into the public space. However, upon entering, it is always important that you closely consider and agree to the terms of entry. If you have any questions about creative competitions or need assistance reviewing the terms of entry, get in touch with our contract lawyers on 1300 544 755. 

Catherine Logan

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