24 June

July 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

In Victoria, the “Bowness Photography Prize” requires finalists only to grant a non-exclusive licence to reproduce their works for the limited purpose of publicity and promotion of the prize. There is, however, no time restriction on this licence and no term requiring attribution of the creators; if there had been, a perfect 5 / 5 stars would have been awarded.


  • Bowness Photogaphy Prize – deadline 8 July 2015

3 competitions received 3 / 5 stars

In NSW, “The Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize 2015” requires all entrants to license, for an unlimited period, Woollahra Council (and its licensees) to reproduce their work for archival and promotional purposes. However, the promotional purposes are not restricted to promotion of the Award and, as such, it is possible for images of the sculptures to be used in connection with any kind of promotion.  Best practice would be for the promotional purposes to be restricted to promotion of the Award and further that the licence be for a set time frame.  It is great that the organiser will properly acknowledge the artist in respect of any reproduction, although it would have been better if it were stated that the undertaking to acknowledge would also occur in the exhibition of the entries. It is a non-acquisitive cash prize of $25,000, but works which are uncollected by December 2015 will become the property of the Council unless agreed otherwise!

The intersection of art and science is the theme of the “The Aikenhead Centre for Medical Discovery (ACMD) Acquisitive Art Prize and Exhibition 2015”, run by St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne.   All entrants are required to license St Vincent’s to use their entries (which would include reproducing) in, and promotion of, the 2015 competition and exhibition.  The terms go on to say that St Vincent’s will seek copyright permission to reproduce the winning entry in its Research publications and future promotions of the ACMD Art Prize.   A better rating would have been awarded if the terms required the licence from finalists/winners rather than from all entrants, limited to a set time frame, and included an undertaking to attribute the artists. Note also that the prize money for this acquisitive prize is $1000.

In WA in the field of portraiture, the “Black Swan Prize for Portraiture 2015” requires all entrants to grant a licence to the competition organiser to reproduce and exercise all intellectual property rights in the portrait for limited purposes including promoting the Prize, but for an unlimited time frame. It is concerning that all artists are required to consent to not being named when their portrait is displayed in any format on the Black Swan website. Best practice is not to seek moral rights waivers from artists and to limit licences to certain period of times. No doubt artists will weigh this up against the $50,000 non-acquisitive first prize!


  • The Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize 2015 – deadline 3 July 2015
  • The Aikenhead Centre for Medical Discovery (ACMD) Acquisitive Art Prize – deadline 15 July 2015
  • Black Swan Prize for Portraiture 2015 – deadline 17 July 2015

2 competitions received 2 / 5 stars

For regional and remote Queenslanders, there is the annual visual arts prize and exhibition “2015 Queensland Regional Art Awards”. All entrants are required to give a licence to the competition’s organisers and also to the sponsors and venues, to take photos and use submitted photos of their artwork for publicity, archival and didactic purposes.  To achieve a better rating, it would have been better if the purposes were limited to being in connection with the Award. In addition, the terms should have required the licence from finalists/winners rather than from all entrants, for a limited time frame and with positive attribution of the artists. The prizes, though, are likely to be appealing, and include an acquisitive cash award of $10,000, a fully funded residency and a touring exhibition.

Out of the ACT is the moving image portraiture award, the “Macquarie Digital Portraiture Award 2015”. Its terms and conditions require all entrants to grant to the National Portrait Gallery the right to use their digital work, limited to publicity, promotional and educational purposes associated with the Award.  There is no time limit on the licence and no undertaking to attribute the creators. Such terms would usually be awarded 3/5 stars.  However a lower rating has been awarded because there is an additional term allowing the Gallery to display a finalist’s work on its online gallery without limiting that online use to promotion of the Award. If it is intended that this use be limited to the purpose of promoting/publicising the Award, then that should be made clear. This website use is also not limited in time nor is there an undertaking to attribute the creator in this context. Note that the Gallery can also display a segment of a digital work on its website. While this raises the issue of possible impact on a creator’s moral rights, arguably in light of film industry practice the term might be considered reasonable at least in respect of animation or video entries.  Although, it would depend on the particular entry. At the least, the terms should state that the Gallery must first obtain the creator’s written consent to any segment which the Gallery wishes to display on its website, and further that this website use be in connection with the Award, for a set time period and that the creator be acknowledged. 


  • 2015 Queensland Regional Art Awards – deadline 20 July 2015
  • Macquarie Digital Portraiture Award 2015 – deadline 30 July 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.