23 January
Photo by Darius Bashar on Unsplash.

PRIZE REVIEW: Local Word Writing Prize 2024

Local Word Writing Prize 2024  

This month, Arts Law has reviewed the terms and conditions of the ‘Local Word Writing Prize’ organised by the Geelong Regional Library Corporation (GRLC) and Deakin University, Victoria. Read the terms and conditions of this competition here

The deadline for this competition is 5pm, 27 January 2024. 

What is the rating?  

[Comms to insert stars]  

Arts Law has awarded the competition 3.5 stars out of 5. Read on to find out more detail.  

How did Arts Law help?   

Arts Law reached out to the organisers of the Local Word Writing Prize (the Organisers) to make the competition’s conditions of entry more friendly to the writers who are entering (the Entrants). We were unable to reach the Organisers this time, but we hope our recommendations will assist in next year’s competition and raise awareness to all Entrants as to what is fair. 

How writer-friendly is this competition?   

The terms and conditions of this competition are moderately friendly to Entrants. Arts Law has awarded a 3.5-star rating because there are some areas of writers’ rights that are not sufficiently protected. It is great to see that the Local Word Writing Prize had 597 entrants in 2023 and for this reason it is even more important to ensure the terms are comprehensive and balanced.  

How do the copyright terms stack up?   

What is copyright?   Copyright is a bundle of rights that protect literary, artistic, musical and dramatic works (as well as films and sound recordings). These rights allow the owner of copyright to control the ways that a work is used. If you want to learn more, you can read Arts Law’s Information Sheet on Copyright here.   

  

We are pleased to see copyright remains with the Entrant. However, we note the terms say that if an entry is shortlisted that the Entrant grants the Organiser’s permission to use part of the entry for promotional purposes. Generally, to use any copyright protected work a licence must be granted. The terms should be clearer on what licence the Entrants are granting. It is best practice for the licence to be non-exclusive to allow the Entrant to commercialise their work in other ways and limit such licence to promotional purposes in Australia. It would be really helpful if the Organisers set out how the work will be promoted i.e. via online use, hard copy brochures or posters.  

We also recommend to the Organisers to insert terms which reassure the Entrants that their work will not be used for commercial purposes.  

We would also like to see a clear and appropriate timeframe for how long the licence lasts (for example 5 years). 

Entrants should note the Copyright Act automatically provides some limited exceptions for libraries to reproduce works for purposes such as preservation, archiving and to make works accessible for people with disability. 

Does the competition respect moral rights?   

What are moral rights?   Creators have moral rights when their work is used (i) to attribution, (ii) against false attribution, and (iii) to integrity, which means not having their work treated in a derogatory way. For more information, you can read Arts Law’s Information Sheet on Moral Rights here.     

  

The Organisers have not stated if they will adequately acknowledge the Entrant’s moral rights by including their name and title of the work wherever it is reproduced. If any extracts of the work are used in promotional material, this must also be highlighted to the Entrant. Best practice is to include a term stating that the Organiser will treat an Entrant’s work with integrity and not make any changes or alternations without prior written consent.  

What about Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property?  

What is ICIP?    ICIP is a broad term that covers all of the rights that Indigenous people have, and want to have, to protect their traditional arts and culture (including writing, music, performances, paintings, languages, sacred sites, stories passed down orally, and other records of heritage). If you want to learn more, you can read Arts Law’s Information Sheet on ICIP here.     

  

The terms of the competition are silent on ICIP.   

Best practice for the Organisers is to commit to attributing any ICIP as notified by the Entrant, and not to publish or use ICIP material in the work in a way that is considered degrading or offensive by the Indigenous communities and custodians of that cultural material.   

Other issues   

  • The judges can decide not to award any prize if they believe the entries are not a suitable standard.  This is unfair to Entrants who have spent significant time on their prose and have also sacrificed the opportunity to apply for other competitions which do award prize money.  
  • The judges also have the option to split the prize money for joint first position. This also significantly reduces the prize for an Entrant who has chosen to enter this competition as opposed to another with greater prize money. 
  • The prize does allow an Entrant to submit the same piece of prose to other competitions, so long as they have not received first place in another prize or have published more than 10% of it on a commercial basis – but this does not make it any less unfair if a prize is not awarded or if prize money is split. 

  

What could they have done better?   

To achieve a higher rating, the conditions of entry could have included the following:  

  • Clarity about the type of copyright licence the Organiser’s are seeking from the Entrant. Best practice would be to stipulate that it is a non-exclusive, for non-commercial promotional purposes, and for a limited period of time.  
  • A positive undertaking to observe moral rights and clearly state that no changes will be made to the content, without the prior written approval of the Entrant.   
  • Recognition of ICIP.   

  

Overall, Arts Law finds the remaining conditions of entry for this competition to be acceptable from a best practice perspective.  

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

What is the Local Word Writing Prize 2024 about?   

The Local Word Writing Prize 2024 (the Organiser) is an opportunity for emerging and established writers (Entrants) to submit one entry up to 3000 words in prose fiction or creative nonfiction. Entries must be original works and written in English. 

The competition is open to all Australian residents aged 16 years and over. No more than 10% of the entry material may have been previously published (in print or electronic form) on a commercial basis. While the Entrant may submit the work in other prizes, the entry material must not have previously been awarded first place in any other prize. If, during the judging of this prize, the entry material wins another prize, the Entrant must notify Geelong Regional Library Corporation as their entry ceases to be eligible. 

Entries will be independently and anonymously judged. The judges’ decision will be final and no correspondence will be entered into. 

Shortlisted Entrants will be notified on 2 March 2024. The winner will be announced on World Poetry Day being 21 March 2024 at Geelong Library and Heritage Centre. 

What prizes are on offer in the Local Word Writing Prize 2024?   

The winner of the prize will receive: 

a prize of $2000; 

a one-hour mentoring session with a Deakin University writing practitioner; and 

publication on GRLC’s website and announcement in GRLC’s e-newsletter. 

Commended writers will receive: 

a prize of $250; and 

publication on GRLC’s website and announcement in GRLC’s e-newsletter. 

About  

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’s rated out of five stars only the terms of a competition which dealt with copyright and moral rights. 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. For more information see our website.  

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.