19 December

Australian Book Review’s 2018 Calibre Essay Prize Gets it ‘Write’

About Arts Law competition reviews

Arts Law regularly reviews 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! 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. 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.

December 2017 Arts Law Competition Review

This month Arts Law has reviewed the Australian Book Review’s (ABR) 2018 Calibre Essay Prize.  

The deadline for this competition is 15 January 2018.

This competition is open to writers anywhere in the world, of whatever age. 

Arts Law has rated this competition 5 out of 5 stars. This is a wonderful note to end on for Arts Law’s 2017 review of prizes!

Read the Terms and Conditions.

This competition is for a single non-fiction essay of 3,000 to 6,000 words in English.

There are cash prizes for the winner (A$5,000) and the runner-up (A$2,500). In addition, the winner will be published in the April 2018 ABR print and online editions, and the runner-up will be published in the May 2018 or June-July 2018 ABR print and online editions.

The terms and conditions of this competition deal fairly and appropriately with copyright and moral rights, and the ABR is to be commended on the terms. Not to mention the cash prizes and publication opportunity!


It is excellent that copyright remains with all entrants, including for the winner and runner-up. 

There are restrictions placed on the entrants, however we think these are appropriate in the circumstances. In sum, up until announcement of the prize on 1 April 2018 (or earlier if so notified by the ABR), entrants cannot offer their entries to other publications or prizes or anthologies.

Thereafter, the winner and runner-up are required to grant the ABR an exclusive licence to publish their winning essays in the relevant ABR issue (print and online edition) for three months from the date of first publication in the issue. Following that 3 month period, they are then required to grant the ABR a non-exclusive licence indefinitely to publish their winning essays in the relevant online issue.

This means during the 3 month period following first publication of their winning essays in the particular ABR print and online edition, the winner and runner-up cannot publish them elsewhere. This is reasonable and sensible. Once the 3 months is up, the winner and runner-up are free to publish their winning essays elsewhere, while the ABR can continue to publish them in the particular online edition indefinitely. This allows for the ABR to have the particular online edition available indefinitely online, which also makes sense.

Moral rights

These terms are a good example of respecting an author’s moral rights to be credited and to have their work treated respectfully. In sum, the terms provide that the winner and runner-up will be credited in the particular print and online edition in which their winning essays are published, and in all related material. When it comes to ABR editing the winning essays, the winner and runner-up will be involved and will be shown changes for their approval. It is wonderful to see these positive undertakings by a competition organiser.

Well done ABR! We congratulate the ABR on its terms and conditions which demonstrate transparency and a fairness and respect for writers.

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.