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 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.
Arts Law has reviewed the terms and conditions (Ts and Cs) of the WA Made Film Festival 2021 (Festival) which comprises 6 categories Note that the “Get Smart!” category has some additional Ts and Cs.
Arts Law reached out to the organiser of this competition with suggestions on how they could make their Ts and Cs more artist friendly. It is pleasing that as a result of this engagement, they updated their Ts and Cs.
Click here for further details about this competition and how to enter.
The deadline for this competition is 19 December 2020. It states that this is the regular deadline but it’s unclear if there are any other deadlines or if this is a reference to the possibility of there being extensions.
Arts Law has rated this competition 3.5 out of 5 stars.
The Festival is described on its website as “Western Australia’s only independently operated film festival featuring WA made films”. It was first held in 2020 and 2021 will be the second year of the Festival.
It appears that filmmakers don’t need to be from Western Australia (WA) (except for the “Get Smart!” category which specifies that entrants must be from WA), though the festival organisers have indicated a preference for films to be made and post-produced in WA. It would be good if this could be made a bit clearer so that filmmakers from other states know if they’ll be restricted in any way. There is also the requirement to notify the festival organisers, if any part of the film, for example, the location or post-production is not in WA, or the actors and cast crew members, are not from WA.
Entrants should also read the further eligibility requirements including: the films must have been completed after June 2019; films in progress or rough cuts will be considered, if completed “well before” March 2021; films in English are preferred, though English subtitles will be accepted; the entrant must create or own or have the rights to submit the film and any underlying works e.g., music to the Festival; the film must be submitted using a particular format.
There are also separate terms and conditions for the “Get Smart!” category, which entrants should read. A particular difference from the other categories is that entrants must be from WA and the film must be filmed in WA.
The Awards and Prizes
There are six different categories for this Festival listed below, but only the Get Smart! category awards a cash prize. The Ts and Cs state that “more awards and prizes to be announced”, but best practice is to state the awards up front. For the other categories, entrants should look at the possible profile raising from winning. In this regard, we note that the successful entrants will receive an official selection laurel, one free ticket to the screening, and the opportunity to participate in a Q&A after the screening of the film. The featured films will be screened across various locations, including Palace Cinemas Raine Square, Perth, from 12-14 March 2021:
- Western Australian Feature Film (feature film or documentary over 60 mins).
- Western Australian Short Film (short film under 20 mins, any genre and shot not using a smartphone).
- Get Smart! Western Australian Smartphone Film (film under 10 mins, shot using a smartphone). There is a $1000 prize for best film in this category, as well as other awards and prizes to be announced. Ideally the additional awards and prizes would form part of the terms and conditions of the competition.
- Western Australian Web Series (web episode under 15 mins).
- Western Australian TV Episode/One-Off (an episode/one-off under 60 mins, any genre).
- Western Australian Music Video.
There is a different entry fee for each of the categories ranging from $5 – $25. This fee is non-refundable.
All entrants will be notified whether their film has been successful in early January 2021.
We were pleased to see that the Festival had a term stating that all filmmakers will retain their rights in the film. This is something we like to see in all terms and conditions.
When entering the Festival, entrants grant the Festival a licence to use part of their films, including the “trailer, teaser or film poster for promotional purposes”. It is great that the use of the films is limited to “promotional purposes”.
It seems the licence is required from “all” entrants and not just winners/finalists. Usually we like to see licences only from winners/finalists. Here non-winning entrants may be happy to have their films used in this way. For clarity, though, it should be spelt out so that all entrants have clear expectations.
It would also be ideal if there were a set period of time that the Festival can use part of the film, eg until the end of the Festival. Further, the licence is also unclear about whether the Festival will be making their promotional trailers using parts of the films, or if they will be using a trailer created by the entrant. Best practice would be to make this clear and it would be fair to involve the filmmaker in choosing which part of their film will be used for the trailer.
Entrants also grant the Festival a licence for their films to be “made available online during the festival as part of an online ticketed component to the festival”. Again, for clarity, it would be better if the terms and conditions stated whether this only applied to successful entrants, not all entrants. That way, all entrants will have a clear understanding of where they stand.
Elsewhere it is stated that the “Festival will screen across stunning locations including Palace Cinemas Raine Square right in the heart of Perth city”. As such, entrants should be aware that by entering the competition they are implicitly agreeing to their films to be shown at locations (not all disclosed) including Palace Cinemas Raine Square. While that is great profile raising, it is always best to clearly state exactly what permissions the filmmakers are granting, rather than reading permissions into the Ts and Cs.
Lastly, the Get Smart! category requires that films be “made exclusively for WA Made Film Festival”. It also states that entrants cannot screen the film “anywhere prior to the festival (March 12-14 2021). Films must not screen at film festivals or online until after 31st March 2021” Therefore, entrants are granting the Festival an exclusive licence to screen the film until 31 March 2021, meaning they can’t license others to screen the film. It is unreasonable for this term to apply to unsuccessful entrants instead, it should only apply to successful entrants.
Under the law, principal producers, directors and screenwriters have moral rights to be credited for their work and for their work to be adapted or used in a way that doesn’t affect their integrity, unless permission is first obtained. That is, there can be no derogatory treatment of their work (eg no changes to their work or uses of it, which affect their artistic integrity or reputation).
The terms and conditions do not mention moral rights, though we assume that the credits will be included and shown when screening in the film. Best practice is to always have clear terms dealing with moral rights rather than remaining silent on it. In particular, we would suggest a term stating that the Festival and any third parties will respect the moral rights of the producers, directors and screenwriters by making sure they credit them on their website and when showing the film etc.
Also as mentioned above, when it comes to using parts of the films for trailers it would be fair to involve the filmmakers in the deciding which part of their films to use in the trailer.
Other things to consider
The Festival rightly requires entrants to be the copyright owner or have all rights to submit the film to the Festival, including any music used in the film. This is also further stipulated in the Get Smart! terms and conditions, which state that the “final film must be an original idea from an original script with permission/rights to use all music contained within the film”.
The terms and conditions specify the format in which entrants must submit their films. The formats include:
- Short films: HD Prores 422 with stereo or 5.1 audio.
- Feature films: DCP with preference of 5.1 audio. If not available using this format, the festival organisers are able to covert the film from a Prores 422 file with embedded 5.1 audio, though this will be at an additional cost.
- Get Smart! Category: HD quality, preferably 1920 x 1080 MP4 at 24 or 25 fps.
Finally, it would be useful if the terms and conditions described what will happen to the Festival if there are COVID-19 restrictions in place at the time.
Overall, this Festival is an opportunity for emerging filmmakers to raise their profile by participating in a State run festival, but bearing in mind at present only one category awards a cash prize. For a higher rating, it would be great to see moral rights dealt with in the Ts and Cs and a bit more clarity around the matters raised above.
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 of our website.