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[Contest] The Short Story Project

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mrsmig

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These folks have been active on Twitter lately, hyping a short story contest with some sizeable monetary prizes: The Short Story Project

There's an entry fee, of course - $17, which is on the hefty side. More troubling is that their website claims, in great big letters:

"You fully own the rights of your wonderous, hard-worked short stories!"

but the Terms & Conditions of the contest contradict that with this clause:

LICENSE TO ENTRY. By participating in the Contest, Participant hereby grant, free of charge, Sponsor and any person obtaining a copy of the Entry on Sponsor's behalf, a non-exclusive worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free license to use, copy, modify, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, merge, display and publish or commercialize in any manner whatsoever the Entry in connection with Sponsor's business.

Bolding is mine. So in other words, simply by entering the contest, you're giving them to right to use and alter your work, forever, for free.
 
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novicewriter

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Yeah; I don't like rules with clauses like that. It's the same wording that's also used for sketchy photography contests that professional photographers warn others about, too.

It's unfortunate that this type of thing seems to go on in all creative industries.
 
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mrsmig

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Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware says "that's not the only problem," and will be publishing a blog about the contest next week.
 

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Cheering you all on!
Thanks for identifying that small print, mrsmig. It's also hidden in the T&C under a section about author's rights to the work that sounds like it could be about authors keeping rights, but is actually about authors having the right to the material before submitting it (IOW, you wrote it and it's not fanfic).

ETA: Even with the upcoming WB post, I worry about how many people might enter in the next week. Earlier info, here and on twitter, is much appreciated!
 
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mrsmig

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Thanks for identifying that small print, mrsmig. It's also hidden in the T&C under a section about author's rights to the work that sounds like it could be about authors keeping rights, but is actually about authors having the right to the material before submitting it (IOW, you wrote it and it's not fanfic).

ETA: Even with the upcoming WB post, I worry about how many people might enter in the next week. Earlier info, here and on twitter, is much appreciated!

It just bugged me the minute I saw their repeated Tweets. Something about them, and their website, was just too slick. To be fair, another Tweeter spotted the questionable clause first; I just got louder with it. I'm interested to read what Victoria has to say about the whole thing.

(The syntax of the website is slightly off, too. I think the company is based out of Israel.)
 
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mrsmig

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Victoria Strauss' blog on Writer Beware about the rights-grabbing clauses in TSSP's terms & conditions: Contest Caution
 

eqb

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I tweeted about the clause to one of the contest judges. He agreed that it's problematic, and he's going to follow up with the contest runner.
 

mrsmig

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So glad you did that. I've been on the fence about doing it myself, but I didn't want to make it look like I had some kind of grudge against the sponsor.

My suspicion is that they pulled the boilerplate language from someplace else, not realizing what it would mean for the submitting authors.
 

eqb

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Ben Rosenbaum is a good and honorable person (as well as a truly amazing writer), so I was sure he'd want to know. And I think you're right about them pulling boilerplate language.
 

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mrsmig

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I actually got a tweet from the sponsor, linking to the change in terms, but every time I tried to look them over a pop-up would block my view, and it wouldn't go away unless I entered my email address. I'm not giving them my email address, so I couldn't double check.
 

mrsmig

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Nope, I still get the popup. Maybe they know it's me. :e2brows:
 

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