Friday, October 19, 2007

Eternity x The Times = Zero

I wanted to ask your opinion on this competition: The Times / Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition It looks like a good opportunity (if a bit of a long shot), but this paragraph in the T&C made me pause:
"11. TNL reserves the right to publish segments/parts of entries other than the winning entry (up to 500 words of any non-winner's entry), and publication does not necessarily mean that the entrant has won a prize. TNL reserves the right to edit entries in its discretion for publication. Entrants will retain copyright in their submitted entries; however, by entering, all entrants give TNL a worldwide royalty free perpetual licence to edit, publish and use segments of each entry in any and all media (including print and online) for publicity and news purposes. In particular, all entrants license TNL the right to print their entry on Times Online and in The Times or The Sunday Times or any of their supplements."
Is this a fair deal for the entrants? 500 words seems fair enough, but that last line sounds as if TNL could print the whole of an entrant's story and not pay for the privilege of doing so?
The part that troubles me is the single word "perpetual". Perpetual?

So let me get this straight: They get to publish any 500 words (edited/abridged at their discretion) from your novel forever? Royalty free? And as far as I can see, they have not committed to only publishing the same 500 words, so they could conceivably publish your entire novel in serial form, 500 words at a time.

No doubt Chicken House already has a deal with the Times to sell them "first serial" rights for the winning entry (assuming that winner agrees to the Chicken House's contract). Which is acceptable—it means the Times gets to print an excerpt ahead of the book's publication. That's just good publicity.

But I'll bet you Chicken House isn't going to give the Times perpetual anything with regards to the work they invest money in. So I'm at a loss as to why the Times thinks lone authors would agree to such a thing (besides, obviously, ignorance).

I think it's acceptable for the Times to ask for the right to print a single example of 500 words of your manuscript in all of their media within a particular window of time—and I would count that time in weeks or months rather than years—that usage would cover the building of publicity around this contest, which is reasonable. But the only reason they would choose to use your work over and over throughout years is if it were making them money. And how much of that money would be for you? That's right: zero.


Eric said...

Plus, the rules are so badly written, Times should pay applicants for the aggravation of reading them.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like chicken shit to me.

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