Tag Archives: Contractual term

If you are thinking of entering a contest – READ THE FINE PRINT

I was going to keep my big alligator mouth shut, but I can’t.  I just can’t.

A call for submissions was recently announced that is an incredible opportunity…  A contest to write a prequel to one of the classic children’s movies from the 1980’s. How cool would that be. Right?

A group of friends and I gathered our kids, and we watched the movie.  We brainstormed, and we were excited.

Afterwards, I breezed over to the web-site and looked up the history of the time period that they provided as a basis for the world-building… and ideas started to flow.

Then I checked the fine print

As I looked over the terms and conditions, a few things popped out at me as HUGE red flags.  I thought, “Hmm, this is a major publishing house, and a big American iconic company.  There’s no way that I can be reading this right.”

So, I did the smart thing, and contacted a lawyer.

I’m so glad I did.  What they told me, horrified my socks off.  Really, it did.  Those suckers flew right across the room.

In a nutshell, whether you win or lose… if you enter the contest they have the right to use your story, and your name to sell it at any time.  Even years later… once you’ve hit it big.  They have a story by you that they own… and there’s not a dern thing you can do about it.

Here’s the worst part — We writers enter these things all the time.  We figure that if we don’t win, we can change the names and the world and sell it as something else, right?

Nope.  You can’t. NEVER. They own your story for eternity.

I’m going to give you the direct quote sent to me. If you re-write the story and publish it with different names and change the world…

“Are you sitting down? – they can sue you for using your own story that they now (and forever) own, and they would 100% win in court.”

That’s insane. And I’m ashamed.  I’m ashamed because I LOVE the brand behind this contest and everything having to do with them.  I grew up with them and I was uber-excited to have a chance at being part of it.

Not anymore.

In respect of the brand that I love so much, I will not tell you who it is.  If you don’t know, then you are not in danger, but if this sounds familiar, and you are considering it, PLEASE take a look at the terms and conditions.

Do I still think this is an incredible opportunity?  Yes, I do.  But you need to weigh the risks against your chances.

If I spend six months creating a masterpiece, and it is not chosen, I deserve the right to revise and use my story elsewhere.  In my mind there is no such thing as a story “Dependant on” the original.  Anything can be revised.

If you are going for it, good luck.  I wish you the best.

Sadly, I will not be any competition.

JenniFer_EatonF