Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Alibi's crime writing contest - second thoughts

A few weeks ago I posted details of this contest, run by Alibi TV in association with HarperCollins to find the 'crime writers of the future'. It's completely free to enter, the prizes are seriously good, and there's always the chance that you might leapfrog the slush pile at HarperCollins if you make the shortlist of eight.

I was all set to write something myself and had even come up with a title and a basic plot. Then I decided to check the guidelines for formatting hints, and found the following statement buried deep within the small print of the terms and conditions of entry:

"Where you submit your entry to this site (including without limitation any text, graphics, photos, video or audio) by such submission you grant UKTV and Harper Collins Publishers Limited each a perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free, non-exclusive, worldwide, sub-licensable right and license to use, reproduce and publish, distribute and make available to the public your entry in any media, now known or later developed, for the full term of any rights that may exist in such content.

If you do not wish to grant such rights to UKTV and HarperCollins, you should not submit your content to the site."

In other words, it's yet another contest where simply by submitting your story, you give away all rights, forever, without any form of payment. Those lucky eight will get prizes and recognition, but hundreds of others will send work in, not be shortlisted, and effectively hand over their story for free.

Why do some contest organisers do this? And why do they hide that fact in reams of small print that many people won't have the patience to wade through? I don't know, but suddenly I've gone off the idea of entering this contest.

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