Fair terms for writing competitions – Arts Law helps the Australasian Association of Writing Programs

As part of Arts Law’s advocacy work, we regularly review the terms and conditions of competitions (Ts&Cs) and rate them out of five based on their fairness for entrants.  This often involves Arts Law proactively reaching out to competition organisers to encourage them to improve or even tweak their Ts&Cs.  Or competition organisers might approach us for advice on how best to draft artist-friendly Ts&Cs. (Arts Law provides a ‘Best Practice’ advice service to competition organisers who want to ensure that their Ts&Cs reflect best practice when dealing with entrants, while aiming to strike a fair and commercial balance between the needs of the organiser and the entrants.) 

Recently we were thrilled when the Australasian Association of Writing Programs (AAWP) approached us for some ‘Best Practice’ advice  on the Ts&Cs for their prizes. AAWP wanted to ensure that their terms were fair before publishing them.

AAWP, in their own words, exist to ‘provide a forum for discussion on all aspects of teaching creative and professional writing as well as current theories on creativity and writing, and to improve the quality of programs across the country’.  Every year AAWP run a series of prizes for authors (with entries for 2020 closing 31 July 2020), which at the time of writing can be viewed on their website here. Arts Law’s Solicitor Roxanne Lorenz reviewed and advised AAWP on the following prizes:

  • AAWP and Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (UWRF) Translators’ Prize 2020
  • AAWP and Slow Canoe Live Journal (SC) Creative Nonfiction Prize 2020
  • AAWP and Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (UWRF) Emerging Writers’ Prize 2020
  • AAWP and Australian Short Story Festival (ASSF) Emerging Writers’ Short Story Prize 2020
  • AAWP and University of Western Australia Publishing (UWA Publishing)‘Chapter One’ Prize for Emerging Writers

Arts Law was very pleased with the overall standard of the Ts&Cs and only needed to make a few minor suggestions to AAWP to make the Ts&Cs even better than they were. AAWP were very receptive to Arts Law’s suggestions and promptly made changes to their Ts&Cs. In particular, the Ts&Cs were improved to clearly spell out the fact that the writers would retain all copyright in their work.

Notably, Arts Law thinks it is wonderful that the writers, as a condition of entry, are not required to give permission to AAWP to reproduce their work. AAWP informed Arts Law that any time that they wish to reproduce an entrant’s (or even a prize winner’s) work, they seek permission and enter into an agreement with that individual writer. Further, AAWP do not restrict entrants or prize winners from publishing their works elsewhere.

Arts Law’s review of these Ts&Cs provided AAWP with the confidence that their prizes were being conducted in a manner that was respectful of the rights of the participating writers.

Arts Law was very impressed with AAWP’s attitude, which clearly demonstrated AAWP’s respect for writers. Arts Law’s engagement with AAWP and the positive outcome reflects Arts Law’s mission to empower artists in practice. Here Arts Law assisted an organisation with the end result being a positive impact on writers and their rights.  As Julia Prendergast, Chair of the AAWP Executive Committee (who manages the Prizes and Partnerships Portfolio) informed Arts Law:

The impetus for our suite of prizes is to provide publication pathways and networking opportunities for emerging writers, as well as promoting the work of under-represented writers and translators to a broader ‘English-using’ audience. We’d like to ensure our terms and conditions are vigilant in protecting the rights of authors while facilitating opportunities as generously as possible.”

Scroll down for more details on each prize and how to enter.

Competitions can be very attractive to entrants for a number of reasons including because of the prizes and potential profile-raising opportunities. However, before entering a competition, entrants need to be across the Ts&Cs; they need to understand what they have signed up to and in particular what rights in their works they will be giving up by entering the competition.  You can read more about this here: https://www.artslaw.com.au/information-sheet/competition-conditions/

If you have a legal query you can submit a query here: https://www.artslaw.com.au/services/legal-query-form/