3 June

June 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 on making 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.

Read on for our ratings of 6 competitions closing in June 2015.

2 competitions this month received 4 / 5 stars

The Tasmanian ceramic and drawing competition, “2015 City of Hobart Art Prize” requires only selected entrants to grant a non-exclusive licence to reproduce their works for limited purposes. There is, however, no time restriction on the licence and no term requiring attribution of the creators; if there were such terms a perfect 5 / 5 stars would have been awarded.

The NSW photography prize “Olive Cotton Award 2015” similarly requires a licence from selected entrants /finalists for limited purposes but again with an unlimited time frame. It’s great though that there is positive attribution to credit the photographers (not to mention the $20,000 acquisitive first prize).  One thing to note is that finalists cannot include their selected images on a commercial website prior to the exhibition period, although they can be included on personal website or social media.


  • 2015 City of Hobart Art Prize – deadline 1 June 2015
  • Olive Cotton Award 2015 – deadline 5 June 2015

3 competitions received 3 / 5 stars

The terms and conditions of the international short film competition ”My Rode Reel”, require all entrants to grant a non-exclusive licence for a limited purpose. However, a perfect rating was not awarded because the licence is for an unlimited period of time, there is no term requiring the organiser to positively attribute the creators and entrants must allow the organiser to modify entries in its sole discretion.  On the other hand, it is worth noting that there are various prize packs of equipment, the most substantial having an approximate retail value of $40,607. That said, be wary of the term which states that the prize packs are subject to availability.

The Western Australian “Cossack Art Awards 2015” requires all entrants to grant a licence for limited purposes (reproducing entries for publicity, catalogue, marketing and archival purposes in association with the award), but for an unlimited time period and without a term requiring the organiser to positively attribute the creators. There is a  $15,000 cash prize for best overall artwork, among other prizes – however, as all works must be for sale, if the sale price exceeds the prize then the winning artist must accept the lower amount!

In the poetry field, the long running Newcastle Poetry Prize requires selected authors to grant permission to the Hunters Writers Centre to publish their poem in an anthology, for an unlimited time –a presumably attractive publishing opportunity for poets (as well as cash prizes including a first prize of $12000), despite the unlimited duration of the licence.  However, the terms then go on to say that the Hunter Writers Centre will have first publication rights to all submitted poems, albeit limited for the purposes of promoting the competition and the anthology. If the competition organisers actually meant to restrict the licence to selected entrants, then that should be made clear. While there is no term requiring positive attribution of the authors, it appears from the website that past winners have been attributed and would presumably be attributed in the anthology. That said, best practice would be to include a term which expressly states that authors will be attributed.

These 3 competitions would have been given better ratings if the licences were required to be given by finalists/winners only rather than all entrants, for a set time period, and had included a term that there would be attribution of the artists.


  • My Rode Reel – deadline 1 June 2015
  • Cossack Art Awards 2015 – deadline 8 June 2015
  • Newcastle Poetry Prize – deadline 19 June 2015

1 competition received 1 / 5 stars. 

The Eumundi Sculpture Prize 2015 requires all entrants to give a licence for their maquettes to be reproduced and images of their submissions to be reproduced, for limited purposes including promotion purposes but without a time limitation on this licence. If the terms dealing with copyright had stopped there, the prize would have received a 3/5 rating.  However a low rating was awarded because the terms went on to state that the winner must assign all IP in their sculpture. That is concerning. There is at least a term that endeavours will be made at all times to accurately attribute moral rights in the works, although it would be better if the word “accurately” were not used. Best practice is not to require a copyright assignment from creators, but instead for finalists only to give a non-exclusive licence for a limited time period, and that there be positive attribution of the creators.


  • Eumundi Sculpture Prize 2015  – deadline 26 June 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.