28 June

Arts Law reviews Telstra’s Emerging Choreographer (TEC) Competition

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 (using our previous rating systems https://www.artslaw.com.au/advocacy/prizes-and-competitions). 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.

This month, Arts Law has reviewed the terms and conditions of The Australian Ballet’s Telstra Emerging Choreographer (TEC) competition. Details about the competition can be read here and the terms and conditions of the competition are here. The deadline for this competition is Tuesday 13 July 2021.

Arts Law has rated this competition 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Arts Law made suggestions to the Australian Ballet to make this competition’s terms and conditions even more artist friendly than they were, and we are delighted that they took on board almost all our suggestions. 

The Australian Ballet’s website states that, together with Principal Partner Telstra, the TEC competition is “creating a new pathway for emerging Australian choreographers in all dance styles to develop their skills and foster their talent”.

The competition is open to artists worldwide who are 18 years and over. Entries are to be in the form of a short written (up to 250 words) and video (1-2 minute) submission (Entry Piece) on what the entrant would like to create if chosen as a finalist. This Entry Piece must outline the concept and include examples of the movement the entrant wishes to create. All entrants must source and arrange their own dancers and filming for the Entry Piece as well as the Finalist’s Work.

Up to four finalists will be selected and commissioned to create a piece of between four and six minutes (Finalist Entry), choosing from a selection of music provided by the company. The finalists will receive a budget of up to $2,500 to help create their work. This will need to cover any costs associated with this project and no additional budget will be provided. A budget outline must be submitted for payment and receipts will be required to validate costs. Any funds not used in the production of the work must be returned to the Australian Ballet.

In addition to the initial budget funds, the winner will receive a cash prize of $10,000 and be featured in the 2022 Bodytorque program. The winner will be announced during the Bodytorque season in Melbourne this October. 

Copyright and moral rights
Congratulations to the organiser for good copyright and moral rights terms.

Arts Law is pleased with the way these terms and conditions deal with the entrant’s copyright.

In respect of the Entry Piece, all entrants retain copyright and the Australian Ballet and Telstra have no rights to use footage or still photographs from the Entry Piece without the entrant’s permission. Furthermore, the entrant must ensure all relevant consents regarding any third-party material included in any submission are recorded.

Regarding the Finalist Entries, it’s great that only finalists (as opposed to all entrants) grant a copyright licence to the Australian Ballet and Telstra in respect of their Finalist Entry. This is an exclusive licence to the Australian Ballet and Telstra limited for the non-commercial purpose of promoting the competition, which seems a fair use in the circumstances of the competition. The licence has a time limit of two years and the Australian Ballet will obtain the entrant’s prior written permission before using the material under the licence.

However, we note that being an exclusive licence, the finalists cannot grant a copyright licence for the choreography in their Finalist Entry to anyone else over the two-year term of the licence. Although this is not such a problem in the case of the winner (who receives a $10,000 cash prize), the other three finalists do not receive any further monetary compensation for their Finalist Entry (outside the initial $2,500 budget to cover creation costs) and the exclusive licence prevents them from generating an income for two years from their Finalist Entry choreography through licencing the copyright in the choreography to others. To make this fairer to the artists, it would be better if the licence granted by finalists (other than the winner) was non-exclusive.

It is great to see that entrants who are unsuccessful in being selected as finalists retain all their rights to the footage and photographs in the Entry Piece and no copyright or moral rights are granted to the Australian Ballet or Telstra in respect of their Entry Piece.

Moral rights
Under the law, an author has moral rights in their work including the right to be attributed as the creator (and the right against false attribution by another).  It is great to see the terms address the moral right of attribution, by including a positive undertaking by the Australian Ballet and Telstra to “credit and attribute [the entrant’s work] appropriately, using words such as ‘Choreography by …’. No other personal details will be used.” While this is excellent, to avoid any doubt, it would be better to state specifically that the undertaking to attribute applied “whenever the Finalist’s Entry Piece or Finalist Piece is used”.

Importantly for choreographers is the moral right for their work to be used in a way that doesn’t affect their integrity, unless their written permission is first obtained.  There must be no derogatory treatment of their work (eg no changes to their work, or uses of it, which affects their artistic integrity and reputation).

It is great to see the terms address the moral right of integrity by including a positive obligation that the Finalist’s Entry will only be used to promote the TEC competition (and will not be reproduced for commercial purposes, sold or lent to others for any use, or used for another purpose other than promotion without a separately negotiated contract for this use) and that the Australian Ballet with obtain the Finalist’s prior written permission before use. This prevents the Australian Ballet and Telstra from using, or letting others use, the Finalist Entry in a manner which could affect their artistic integrity.

Other things to consider
In respect of the conditions around the creation of a new dance work by the winner, best practice would be to have a separate agreement (attached to the initial T&Cs) setting out the T&Cs governing the creation of the new dance work.  This way, entrants are clear about what ways the new dance work can be used. 

For a perfect rating, the terms and conditions could be improved through restricting the licence for finalists to a non-exclusive licence and providing separate T&Cs for the new dance work to be created by the winner.

Overall, Arts Law was particularly impressed with the Australian Ballet’s willingness to listen to our suggestions to improve its terms and conditions, which demonstrates its commitment to dealing positively with artists’ rights.  Well done! We congratulate it on its terms and conditions which demonstrate transparency and a fairness and respect for artists.

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.