C&A Friedlander Attorneys

What better way to get exposure for your creative works while also earning a little bit of money, than entering artistic competitions? Even though it sounds ideal, you need to remember that there are two sides to every coin and the organisation hosting the competition is also benefiting from the same exposure by getting artists to promote their brand. It can either be a win-win or a lose-win situation that is why it is important to take note of certain issues before entering such competitions.

Make sure that you are eligible to enter into the competition to avoid wasting your time, the terms and conditions of the competition will provide various requirements that you will need to comply with.

Always read the fine print and remember that by entering the competition you are entering into a contract and agreeing to the terms and conditions thereof. Therefore, by breaching any of these terms you can open yourself up to potential litigation.

The one question a lot of people ask when it comes to artistic competitions is ‘what are the intellectual property implications?’. Once an artist creates a piece of work that is intended to be submitted to a competition, that piece of work will automatically get copyright protection, and as the artist who created it you will have the sole and exclusive right to do with it what you wish. It is important to make sure, when reading the terms and conditions of the competition, that there are no express or implied terms that affect your copyright licence, or if there are, that you are happy therewith. For example, many creative competitions will include terms that state the artist and owner of the copyright agrees to allow the competition host to use and reproduce the artistic work for certain defined purposes within their discretion.

It is important to bear in mind that by entering the competition you, as the artist and owner of the copyright, are not automatically stripped of ownership of the copyright, unless there is a term in the agreement stating that by entering the competition you agree to transfer the copyright over the artistic work to the competition host. In the latter case, you would have surrendered all rights to control how the artistic work could be used or dealt with in the future and it is advised that, if possible, this type of agreement is avoided as you would then lose your rights regardless of whether you win the competition or not.

Another aspect to take note of when entering into artistic competitions would be the fact that most terms and conditions require you to agree to your private information, such as your name and details, being used by the competition host in specified ways. Make sure that you are satisfied with the manner in which such information could be used as you do not want it being used in a manner that would make yourself feel uncomfortable.

The last thing to take note of is whether the terms and conditions cater for warranties. Most competitions will require the entrant to declare that the artistic work entered is original and created by themselves. The latter is usually combined with a clause indemnifying the competition host from any liability that may arise as a result of plagiarism. Therefore it is vital to know that should you, as the artist and entrant, breach this term you will be held legally liable for any loss caused by the breach.

Although there are many benefits to entering into creative competitions, it is important to remember that you are entering into a contract with the competition host and potential sponsors in terms of which you are agreeing to be legally bound by contractual obligations. The terms and conditions of the competition should in no way be dismissed as insignificant.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

Robyn Richards
C & A Friedlander Inc.