This isn't the first time I've seen a submission-equals-grant-of-rights submission policy in small non-paying ezines.
I was recently asked about another such (not Frontier Tales nor related to them in any way), so I asked one of my friends at a major publisher about that. Here's the answer I received:
I'm not impressed by [Publisher]'s claim that he's studied business law. This fails the "meeting of minds" test. [Author] did not understand himself to be entering into a contract, much less a non-negotiable one, when he submitted his work.Keep in mind that neither I nor my correspondent is a lawyer, nor is this legal advice for anyone's particular situation.
Was it reasonable of [Author] to see it that way? In my opinion, yes. The usual practice in publishing is that a submission asks whether the recipient would like to publish the writer's work. If the recipient says yes, they dicker about the terms. If they can come to an agreement, they draw up a contract which reflects that agreement. If they can't, they don't go to contract. It's not at all usual to claim that submitting work amounts to an automatic consent to the terms of a non-negotiable contract.
The rule that [Publisher] asserts is untenable. Suppose a writer, hereafter Ferdy, heard about [Market] in an extracted list of publications that are current accepting submissions of the sort he writes. It's not an unimaginable scenario; that kind of information often circulates among writers. If Ferdy had seen [Market] on that list and sent his work to the [Market] address, would he and [Publisher] have a contract? [Publisher] is saying they would, because his guidelines say that any submission amounts to an automatic consent to his terms. That would unquestionably be wrong. He and Ferdy would not have a meeting of minds, or an agreement, or a contract.
Want an even simpler statement of it? Mutual understanding and mutual consent are not things that one party can impose on another. If they aren't mutual, they don't exist, and neither does the contract.