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Logo Design Competition Not So Friendly to Artists

Logo Design Competition Not So Friendly to Artists

1st August 2017

About Arts Law competition reviews

Arts Law regularly reviews competitions for their terms and conditions dealing with copyright and moral rights, and rates those terms and conditions out of 5 stars. As such, it is a limited review and not a broad review of all terms and conditions including the prize. Entrants should always weigh up Arts Law’s ratings against the prize and possible profile-raising which may result from being a finalist or winner; it may be that a competition with a low star rating awards a wonderful prize! Read more about the rating system here.

By accepting the terms and conditions of a competition, artists should be aware that they are entering a legally binding contract.

For more information on competition conditions see our free information sheet here. Artists are welcome to contact Arts Law for legal advice on the terms of a competition. We also invite competition organisers to contact Arts Law for best practice assistance to make their terms and conditions fairer for artists.

The Commission for Children and Young People SA Logo Design Competition 2017

This month Arts Law has reviewed The Commission for Children and Young People SA Logo Design Competition 2017.  The entry form is here

The deadline for this competition is 4 August 2017.

This competition is open to South Australian residents under the age of 25. 

Arts Law has rated this competition 1 out of 5 stars

As a preliminary point, the terms and conditions are not available before completing the entry form. Instead entrants have to first attach their logo design and complete certain fields before the terms and conditions appear. This is not best practice - terms and conditions should be available upfront.

Turning to the terms dealing with copyright, they are very poorly drafted, confusing and unclear. This is particularly concerning since this is a logo competition;  when it comes to logos it is not always clear what rights the artist grants to the party who wishes to use it. Accordingly, it is extremely important that an artist’s copyright is expressly dealt with in no uncertain terms.

Here the terms require the winner to grant the Commissioner “permanent consul” to use the winning work and to “perform the copyright and all other intellectual property of any other purposes associated with the office for the Commissioner for Children and Young People”.  We do not understand what “permanent consul” means. Under copyright law, a copyright owner can assign or license their copyright. “Permanent consul” is not language used in the Copyright Act, nor is it industry speak.  Is the winner granting an assignment or a licence? Was “consul” mistyped and should it rather read “consent”?  And what does “perform the copyright … of any other purposes associated with the office for the Commissioner” mean? At best, if this clause can be interpreted as meaning a permanent licence of the winning entry for any purpose of the Commission, too much detail is lacking: Can it be used on merchandise for sale or only non-commercial purposes? At the very least it should be stated expressly that the Commission will not use it for any other purpose other than as its logo, and it will not sub-license it, and that the artist has the right to use the logo in his/her promotional portfolio. It is also concerning that the winner has no guarantee that the Commission will actually use their artwork as its logo. As such, if exposure is what an artist may hope to get from winning, in return for locking themselves into some sort of permanent arrangement, then that is not a given.  

Turning to moral rights, the winner must grant the Commission “permanent consul” to “adapt, modify” their artwork. If this means some permanent right to adapt and modify, then that is not best practice. Rather, the Commission should obtain, at the least, the artist’s consent to any substantial changes to the logo. In addition, there is no requirement to credit the artist. Although the artist has to agree that the Commissioner can use their name when promoting the artwork, this falls short of a positive requirement to attribute. In a logo scenario, best practice would be to at least credit the artist on the Commission’s website and wherever else practicable.

In considering a competition’s terms, entrants should take into account the prize. Here it is a $500 Apple voucher. We do not think this is a sufficient reward for what may amount to a permanent, exclusive licence for arguably any purpose of the Commission including commercial purposes. As a matter of industry practice, not to mention artists’ rights, when commissioning logos, artists should be paid appropriately for their work. Our concern is compounded by the term: the “winning artist…has any right to compensation or payment for the ongoing use of their entry” by the Commissioner. The wording is again confusing – but if it means the artist does not have a right to ongoing compensation (if for example the logo is used on merchandise for sale), then this competition amounts to a very cheap way for the Commission to obtain a logo!

Our concerns are reflected in our low rating of this competition’s terms and conditions. Overall, this is not what we would call an “artist/copyright friendly” competition. Put simply, when entering this competition, entrants do not know exactly where they stand regarding the use of their works, if they win.  It is disappointing particularly given that The Commissioner for Children and Young People in SA represents young people, and in this instance it is young people’s creative rights which have not been adequately addressed. We are sure the Commissioner can appreciate the importance of consent which is informed, and in this case the terms and conditions do not appropriately outline the proposed use of the winning logo. We don’t believe this is in line with the Commissioner’s interest in engaging and informing young people in SA.

Further information

Please email us at artslaw@artslaw.com.au to tell us about any competitions or prizes you think we should check. 

See more about Arts Law's campaign to improve competition terms and conditions in the Prizes and Competitions section.

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