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 Collie Art Prize 2020, organised by the Collie Gallery Group Inc. (the Gallery) in Western Australia. Read the terms and conditions of this competition here.
The deadline for this competition is 3 January 2020.
Arts Law has rated this competition 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Prior to publishing our review, Arts Law spoke with the Gallery about this rating. The Gallery explained that due to the time of year and staffing, it could not make any adjustments to the terms and conditions this year. Arts Law understands that. The Gallery has indicated that it will be engaging with Arts Law to improve the terms of its future competitions.
This is a biennial competition and the competition’s website describes it as “one of regional Australia’s richest individual art prize, and forms part of the coal mining town’s push to diversify its economy into tourism and other industries.” It is open to Australians over 18. The theme is “identity” and only 2D artworks will be accepted, not including photos (artists will do well to note the restrictions around weight, size etc). Entries must be no older than 18 months.
There is a prize pool of A$69,000 made up of 6 prizes with opportunities for exhibition. First prize is a A$50,000 acquisitive prize (meaning the competition organiser gets to keep the work). The rest of the prizes are non-acquisitive and range from $6,250 to $500, including a people’s choice award.
Finalists will be selected for exhibition in the Collie Art Gallery from 29 February until 5 April 2020, from which the prize winners will be selected. All artworks must be available for sale.
There is a very broad copyright licence required from all artists. Essentially all artists give a licence to the Gallery for the use of their submitted artworks, for an unlimited period of time.
The licence needs to be tighter. It would be better if the licence was required only from the winners, or at least from the winners and the finalists, but not from all artists. The licence should also be limited to a definite period of time – 5 years would be reasonable, and perhaps longer for the acquisitive prize winner (as it would be reasonable for the Gallery to want to use, without time restriction, the winning work it acquires). Further, the licence should expressly state to be for “non-commercial” purposes, which would make it clear that the Gallery will not use artworks on merchandise for sale. It is good, though, that the terms state that the any promotional and educational type use of the artworks is for publicising the Prize or the Gallery – as opposed to being for an open-ended purpose.
An artist friendly licence would have parameters. It would be required only from winners/finalists for a definite period of time (understandably longer for the acquisitive prize), stating that it is limited to non-commercial purposes for promoting the particular competition and expressly stated to be non-exclusive (so that the artist can allow others to make copies of their artworks). While this may be the Gallery’s intention here, it should be expressly spelt out.
That said, there is a generous prize pool, noting in particular the very generous first prize. So, entrants should balance the above comments against the prizes and any potential profile-raising. On the flip side, they should consider whether they are happy to give the broad licence should they not be selected as a finalist.
Moral rights are broadly an artist’s rights to be credited and that their work be treated with integrity. Unfortunately, the terms are silent on how an artist’s moral rights are dealt with in this competition. Best practice is that the terms should expressly state the artists will be credited whenever their work is used. It should also be expressly stated that no changes will be made to their works when reproduced, without their prior consent. Again, while the Gallery may intend to uphold artists’ moral rights, best practice is to say that in the terms.
Otherwise, entrants should be aware that the Gallery disclaims responsibility for any loss or damage to artworks while in its custody. This is onerous for entrants and they should therefore consider taking out insurance. It is not enough that the Gallery says it will exercise all reasonable care. It is much fairer for the Gallery to have responsibility for the artworks while they are in its possession and control, and to maintain insurance for that.
This competition offers great cash prizes and an opportunity for artists. Arts Law would have given a higher rating if the copyright licence was not as broad, there was a positive undertaking to respect the artists’ moral rights and a fairer insurance clause. However, we are really pleased that the Gallery has indicated it is interested in engaging with Arts Law to make its terms more artist friendly for next time.
You can lodge a query with us here if you would like to obtain advice from Arts Law about this competition.
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.