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Light Reading Competition / Diamond Light Source Ltd.

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Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

Buffysquirrel

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This was tweeted to me by TTA Press.

http://www.light-reading.org/LightReading/Enter.html

The terms and conditions make interesting reading.

8. Entrants agree to assign the entire copyright subsisting in the entry and waive absolutely their moral rights under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 in respect of the entry to Diamond. This means that the Diamond owns the entry, and so can use, adapt and edit the entry and any underlying rights in the entry, free of charge, in all media, for all purposes as it wishes. The entrant is granted a non-exclusive, non-transferable licence to use the entry for non-commercial purposes such as posting on a personal blog or displaying on a personal website.

Is it worth losing your story for a chance at a £500 prize?
 

CACTUSWENDY

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Dim minded here.

So, does this mean that just sending in your story for a chance at winning, you sign over all most all rights? Not sure I would want that.
 

areteus

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It looks like this is one way you could interpret the clause... if by 'entrant to the contest' you mean anyone who sends in an entry (which is how I define it). Normally, rights to a story are not lost until after you make the cut and are therefore sent a contract. This basically means that the story, once sent to this contest, regardless of whether you win or not, can never again be sent by the writer to any other market ever. That is a nasty clause and a sneaky one.
 

DaveKuzminski

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Let's hope a certain Maryland publisher doesn't change their contracts to take all rights for a dollar.
 

Erin

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Dim minded here.

So, does this mean that just sending in your story for a chance at winning, you sign over all most all rights? Not sure I would want that.

That's exactly what this clause states. Bad language. I wouldn't give up my "commercial" rights just for a chance to win.
 

Katrina S. Forest

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The entrant is granted a non-exclusive, non-transferable licence to use the entry for non-commercial purposes such as posting on a personal blog or displaying on a personal website.

<sarcasm>Wow, that's so kind of them to allow you to post your own story on a personal website after you lost all rights just by entering. What thoughtful people!</sarcasm>
 

Dgullen

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Now it's changed to:

"8. Entrants agree to assign the entire copyright subsisting in the winning and shortlisted entries and waive absolutely their moral rights under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 in respect of the entry to Diamond. This means that the Diamond owns the entry, and so can use, adapt and edit the entry and any underlying rights in the entry, free of charge, in all media, for all purposes as it wishes. The entrant is granted a non-exclusive, non-transferable licence to use the entry for non-commercial purposes such as posting on a personal blog or displaying on a personal website."

I think they may have had a few comments.
 

areteus

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At least they recognised thier mistake... but still not a great clause for what is not exactly a prestige competition. Had it been a large competition that guaranteed good exposure if you get shortlisted then it may have been worth it...
 

scorpiodragon

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More contest seem to be trying to pull this sort of rights snatching. And waiving your moral rights :Wha:!!Not cool at all.
 

DiamondSara

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Just coming on to defend Diamond - as a research lab we are not experienced in putting together terms for a short story competition, we have never done this before! The terms that we are using were taken from a competition run by the BBC and agreed by our contracts team. We are taking on board people's comments, hence we have already changed the clause to make it clear that the copyright terms only apply to shortlisted entries, but we'll need to do a bit more research to change it more substantially.

We've never had any intention of not crediting authors for stories, there is no benefit to us for doing that!
 

Buffysquirrel

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TTA Press just tweeted me that the situation had been clarified.
 

Katrina S. Forest

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I'm glad to hear you'll be changing some of these terms, though it certainly would've been better if you had read and understood your own rules before posting them. A single Google search defines what "moral rights" are.
 

areteus

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If you ask on this forum, there are a number of experienced contract people (or people experienced with contracts) who will give you an idea of the standard for this sort of thing. Rights are a controversial issue with many writers and some get wary about signing away all rights to a work.

There is a difference between right to publish and copyright. Right to publish gives the publisher the ability to publish that piece in whatever form the contract allows (for example, you could ask for first worldwide rights or just first North American/European/wherever rights). In theory you could ask for the rights in perpetuity (which means only you can ever publish this piece) though even then there is usually some condition under which the rights revert (such as the company going out of business). Usually, if you only want them for a single publication, you write in a way for the publication rights to revert to the author (say 6 months after publication or after 5 years or whatever you set it to).

Copyright is a different thing altogether. That is the right of the writer to be acknowledged as the creator of that work. They own the 'ideas' within it. It is automatically set as the writer of the piece but it is possible to transfer copyright in a contract at which point the writer no longer owns any of it (including, I think, the characters, settings and so on so they have to negotiate with the copyright owner to use anything they created in that). This is why manywriters are nervous about contracts that talk about 'moral rights'.

BTW, you can happily write in a clause which states that you can edit it for publication. Many contracts have that in... though, again, it may put off some.
 

DiamondSara

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Thanks areteus, that's helpful advice. Don't expect an immediate change as we have to go through the contracts team again, but we are working on it!
 

Terie

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I don't understand something: if you don't know even the most basic things about publishing, such as the difference between copyright and publishing rights, why are you running a contest? Contests that no one has heard of don't benefit writers, just contest-organisers.
 

Mac H.

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The terms that we are using were taken from a competition run by the BBC and agreed by our contracts team.
Your contracts team should fix up the T & Cs - they got a few things wrong.

1) Copyright is a bit different to normal contracts. eg:

Entrants agree to assign the entire copyright subsisting in the entry and waive absolutely their moral rights under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 in respect of the entry to Diamond. This means that the Diamond owns the entry

That clause doesn't really work in most Western Countries (including USA, Australia and the UK). That's because an assignment of copyright (eg: "Diamond owns the entry") or an exclusive assignment under copyright must be literally signed by the assignor to be valid - it's one of the few areas in contract law where a normal 'by submitting this you agree to these terms' simply doesn't apply.

The owner can license all the rights out without a signature - but that bit about 'Diamond owns the entry' or 'the entrant assigns the entire copyright' simply isn't enforcable - in the UK nor most other countries.

I can almost guarantee that your internal legal team at Diamond won't believe me - it's a pretty obscure part of law and goes against every other part of contract law .. but it is true. (If you are UK based - See Section 90 (3) of the 1988 Act. Copyright is one of the few areas with this kind of rule - Real Estate is another. There have been court cases over whether an email with a signature block counted as 'in writing' & 'signed' for the purpose of copyright assignment - I think the result was that it didn't meet the 'signed' requirement. That's just my memory of it - don't quote me on that bit)

2) You really need to mention a venue for disputes. Just a one line comment - it's pretty standard.

3) It's best to take what you want and not try to be a 'dog in a manger' over the other bits.

For example - you are very specific that the author is absolutely forbidden from including this piece in a later collection. Why? If writer Joe Blow submits a piece and wins - does your company honestly care if in 20 years time he includes it in a 'Joe Blow - The Early years' collection? Do you really want to be arguing over this - or getting into debates in 2031 over whether 'The Early Years collection' is really a commercial project or not? If you don't care, then don't try and get it ... it really isn't worth the hassle.

Just a standard 'You grant us non-exclusive permission to republish this in any form ... (etc) ... "

If that's what you want (permission to republish in any form, make changes as needed without consultation, etc) then that's what you should try to get.

Good luck,

Mac
 
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DiamondSara

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Thanks Mac H, that is very helpful. We are UK based, and with the document you pointed us to we've now agreed much more suitable terms (I hope!):

New terms

Hopefully this will encourage more people to take part :)
 

Unimportant

but appreciated anyway...
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Yet another problem is that the author must agree to the terms and conditions in order to submit their story, but the site states that "Diamond reserves the right to change the terms and conditions of this competition without notice."
No, no, no, and no.
 

Mac H.

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BTW - From one older discussion of how well the 'reserves the right to change the terms and conditions without notice' clauses work in the US when challenged:

Harris v. Blockbuster. The rule is really clear. Service providers can't amend online user agreements in the provider’s sole discretion without notice. As the Ninth Circuit informed us in 2007, those contracts don’t fare well in court. So although these provisions are in just about every online user agreement, they don’t work--as Blockbuster found out the hard way.

... because Blockbuster had the impermissible amendment provision in its user agreement, the court said the contract was illusory ....

This case should signal the end of the ridiculous amendment clauses. We’ll see how long it takes the lawyers to give the provisions up.

Ref: http://www.circleid.com/posts/10_noteworthy_cyberlaw_developments_of_2009/
It's in the last half of 2011 - and people still haven't given this clause up.

I'm not sure why companies don't simply say "[We] reserve the right to change the terms and conditions and we will use the email address provided in the submission to notify you of these changes". In reality it does probably reflects what the company actually intends to do in practice - and it does have a hope of being enforceable for certain changes. (Particularly non-rectroactive changes)

Mac
(PS: Obviously this is just me geeking out over a subject I'm interested in)
 

frimble3

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Just coming on to defend Diamond - as a research lab we are not experienced in putting together terms for a short story competition, we have never done this before!
Just curious: why is a research lab running a short story competition?
 

Mac H.

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Just curious: why is a research lab running a short story competition?
It makes sense in context - it is like a local bakery running a short story competition for the best short story with their bakery as a location.

BMW do the same kind of things for film.

Mac
 

DiamondSara

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What Mac H said. Diamond is funded by the UK government and a charity, the Wellcome Trust. As well as our research we have a remit to try and engage the public with the science that we do and explain why the research is important. It's possible to do that by just telling people about science, but then it tends to be the same people who listen - those who are already interested / educated in science. So we're hoping that a short story competition will interest people who might not have heard of us, or place much value on the UK's research base, to find out a bit more about what we do, and tell us why it's interesting. We've been involved in arts projects in the past (sometimes called sci-art), but this is the first time we've tried to do anything with creative writing, hence we are feeling our way a bit!
 

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