26 June

HCP Digital Art Prize 2020


Arts Law regularly reviews the terms and conditions of competitions and rates them out of five stars. Our review looks broadly at the terms and conditions of a competition. In particular, we look closely at how a competition deals with an entrant’s copyright and moral rights, and consider this in light of the prize. Entrants should always take into account the possible profile-raising which may result from being a finalist or winner.

By accepting the terms and conditions of a competition, entrants should be aware that they may be entering a legally binding contract.

For more information, see our free information sheet on competition conditions. 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.

Please note: Prior to February 2018, Arts Law rated out of five stars only the terms of a competition which dealt with copyright and moral rights (using our previous rating systems). Arts Law’s competition reviews are now more holistic, such that our rating out of five stars now reflects a broad review of all the terms and conditions of the competition.


This month Arts Law has reviewed the terms and conditions of the HCP Digital Art Prize 2020 organised by the City of Melville, Western Australia and the Heathcote Cultural Precinct (“the Organisers”). Read the terms and conditions of this competition.

This is very much a topical competition in the current COVID- 19 environment. The Organisers’ website states that “The Digital Art Prize is a response to the coronavirus crisis. It aims to directly support great contemporary visual artists in the medium that remains accessible – digital.”  The competition is described as “a new national award for digital art, promoting contemporary visual art for screen, including video art, custom software, hypertext and art games”.  Artists submit work online, the works are displayed online and the winners are selected by public vote.

The deadline for this competition is 5 July 2020.

Arts Law has rated these terms and conditions 5 out of 5 stars.

5 stars

Arts Law reached out to the Organisers to suggest ways their terms and conditions could be improved to make them as artist friendly as possible. We were really pleased with the Organisers’ response – it was a prompt, enthusiastic turn around in updating their Ts and Cs to make them better for artists.

Entries are open to professional artists who are citizens or permanent residents in Australia. Artwork must be wholly digital, although other display options will be considered.  

The prizes

Three judges select eight Finalists who are eligible for six cash awards ranging from $500 to $6000. These prizes are awarded in a two stage awards process.  First, from the 8 Finalists, the judges award:

  • The best WA artwork award – $1,000; and
  • The acquisitive award – $2,500.

Then, the 8 Finalists (even if they are recipient of the above awards) are eligible for the following main prizes, which are decided by a public vote: 

  • First prize – $6,000.
  • Second prize – $2,000.
  • Third prize – $1,000.
  • Highly Commended (fourth prize) – $500.

In addition, “from the larger list of local artists” (we understand from the organiser that this means  from the remaining entrants) there will be awarded 8 x $250 development sponsorships for the development of artists practice in digital media.


Put simply, an artist’s copyright is their exclusive right to use their work.  Competition terms typically require permission to use an entrant’s copyright as part of its terms (known as a ‘licence’). This competition deals fairly with copyright. In sum, in return for being shortlisted as a Finalist, a Finalist must allow the Organisers, for a period of up to 3 years:

  • to display their work on the Organisers’ website www.heathcotewa.com in an online gallery; and
  • to use excerpts or stills of their work for advertising and promotion of the prize on the Organisers’ website and social channels.

It is great that this licence is limited in purpose (any use of the works beyond in an online gallery display can only be for advertising/promotion of the prize) and for a limited time (3 years is reasonable and fair).  Further, we like that the licence is non-exclusive (meaning a Finalist is free to allow others to use their work) and non-commercial (meaning the Organisers can’t for example apply the artworks to merchandise for sale).  In sum, this is a good example of an artist friendly copyright licence.

Even if a Finalist doesn’t end up winning one of the 6 awards, this use of their work is no doubt profile raising.

The Organisers are also to be commended on ensuring copyright notices will accompany display of artworks on its website. This is good practice. It would be even better  to have  technological measures in place to prevent copying images.

Moral rights

Moral rights are about being credited and not having your work subjected to derogatory treatment (for example through changes made to your work without permission).

In this competition, the terms deal respectfully with an artist’s moral rights; the Organisers have committed to credit works, and to not “alter or remix” artworks or use excerpts or stills without the artist’s permission.

In conclusion

When we contacted the Organisers out of the blue with suggestions to improve their terms, they responded promptly and enthusiastically. Very quickly they revised their terms to make them more artist friendly. This is a clear show of its positive attitude to respect artists’ rights. The copyright and moral rights treatment in the terms deserve a 5 out of 5 rating.  There is also $15,000 worth of cash prizes over multiple categories plus profile-raising opportunity.  Well done to the City of Melville, Western Australia and the Heathcote Cultural Precinct!

You can lodge a query with us here if you would like to obtain advice from Arts Law about this competition.

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 of our website.