31 July

August 2015 Competitions checked by Arts Law

Each month Arts Law reviews a number of competitions for their terms and conditions dealing with copyright and moral rights, and rates those terms and conditions out of 5 stars. As such, it is a limited review and not a broad review of all terms and conditions including the prize. Entrants should always weigh up Arts Law’s ratings against the prize and possible profile-raising which may result from being a finalist or winner; it may be that a competition with a low star rating awards a wonderful prize! Artists are welcome to contact Arts Law for legal advice on the terms of a competition. We also invite competition organisers to contact Arts Law for best practice assistance to make their terms and conditions fairer for artists.

Read more about the rating system here.

By accepting the terms and conditions of a competition, artists should be aware that they are entering a legally binding contract. For more information on competition conditions see our free information sheet here.


1 competition this month received 4 / 5 stars

The “Linden Postcard Show” has achieved a good rating because it requires a non-exclusive licence from finalists only (instead of all entrants) for the limited purpose of publicity and promotion of the Show. For an even better rating the licence should be limited in time and there should be a positive undertaking by the organisers to attribute the creators when their entries are used.


  • Linden Postcard Show – deadline 17 August 2015

3 competitions received 3 / 5 stars

The terms of the “Eutick Memorial Still Life Award” (EMSLA) require a non-exclusive licence from all entrants for an unlimited time but limited to archival, catalogue and publicity purposes. Ideally the purpose should be further limited to publicity of the award. For a perfect rating the licence should be from finalists/winners, limited in time and there should be a term requiring attribution of  the creators (while it appears from the organiser’s website that they do attribute artists at least online, best practice is to nevertheless include it as a term of the competition). With that all said, the chance to win $18,000 and a solo art exhibition is no doubt attractive for entrants.

The “My Story My Content Short Film Competition” requires all entrants to grant a licence for all or part of their entries to be used by the competition organisers in “any manner they choose”. This is too broad, although at least it is limited in time to seven years. There is also no term requiring the organisers to attribute the creators when using the films. Best practice would be to require the licence from only finalists/winners and that the licence be for the limited purpose of promotion/publicity of the Competition. There should also be a term requiring the organisers to attribute the creators when it uses the films.

Turning to literature, the terms of the “Cowley Literary Award” describe, somewhat confusingly, some overlapping licences required from all entrants.  It is at least clear that a non- exclusive licence is required from all entrants, for an unlimited period of time but for the limited purpose of promoting the award, and on that basis the award has been rated 3 out of 5 stars. The terms should be clearer when describing the different licences required. For a perfect rating, licences should be required from finalists/winners only instead of from all entrants, and be limited in time.  It is great though that the organisers will credit the author, although it would have been better if the words “where possible” were omitted.  


  • My Story My Content Short Film Competition – deadline 10 August 2015
  • Eutick Memorial Still Life Award – 21 August 2015
  • Cowley Literary Award  – deadline 31 August 2015


2 competitions received 2 / 5 stars

Dealing with different subject matter but containing very similar licensing terms, are the “Collision” competition (for artworks and multimedia about particle physics) and the “The Kirra Galleries Emerging and New Artist Award 2015” (for glass art). Both require a non-exclusive licence from all entrants, unlimited in time and unlimited in purpose and without an undertaking by the organisers to attribute the creators.  Perfect ratings would have been awarded if the licences were required from finalists/winners instead of all entrants, restricted in time and purpose, and included a term to attribute the creators. An additional comment about the Collision competition is that the licence includes preparing derivative works of the entries; this is going too far. Any licence should be limited to the use of the entry in its submitted form only. Beyond that, the creator’s written consent should first sought.


  • The Kirra Galleries Emerging and New Artist Award 2015 – deadline 14 August 2015
  • Collision  – 25 August 2015

Further information

Please email us at [email protected] to tell us about any competitions or prizes you think we should check. 

See more about Arts Law's campaign to improve competition terms and conditions in the Prizes and Competitions section.