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Before entering writing contests, ALWAYS read the fine print

WorkLifeGroup is running a writing contest that's meant to help them find contributing writers but in my opinion, they're going about it the wrong way. "We're aiming to identify writers all from over the globe to write for us on an ongoing basis; to join WorkLifeGroup as contributing writers (paying gigs, naturally!)." No entry fee, prize is $500. Deadline: Jan 31st, 2010.

Before you enter, however, be sure to read all the terms and conditions. Not only does the story have to be original and written specifically for the contest, but the company says they may use your writing in their site even if you don't win:

WorkLifeGroup reserves the right to publish any and all entries submitted, but publication may not indicate the entry has won a prize.

Also, although they assure you that you retain the copyright to your writing:

The Author grants WorkLifeGroup a perpetual license to display online and use the authored content contributed by the Author.

I'm sure that WorkLifeGroup is sincere when it says that it's looking for writers it can hire in the future but as the contest guidelines are currently written, it certainly sounds like an easy way for them to get free content. Check out #13 below:


10. The Author retains copyright to the story created and contributed to the web site.

11. The Author grants WorkLifeGroup a perpetual license to display online and use the authored content contributed by the Author.

12. For the story judged the winner, in consideration for the prize money awarded the Author grants an exclusive perpetual license to display online and use the authored content contributed by the Author, and will not allow the story to be displayed online on any other web site.

13. The perpetual license for WorkLifeGroup to use the authored content includes possible use for product commercialisation, promotion, and education, and may include use in whole or in part, including extracts and quotations.

Some hopeful writers may be fine with these conditions but I suspect experienced freelancers will shy away. Whatever your level of experience, always remember to READ THE FINE PRINT.

Reader Comments (5)

Good post! I always read the fine print where copyright is concerned. Too often these companies claim they are "only saying that to protect themselves" but don't mention how much the entrant stands to lose. If they are trying to protect their work, you have to protect your work as well.

January 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCassi

I'm a big fan of using contests to get feedback outside your normal critique partners and as a way to get your name out there. I got a book deal out of one! But Inkygirl is right: Read everything, and read it carefully, several times. Read it one last time before you send your entry in.

January 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnn Stephens

Yeah I think I'd avoid this one.

January 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle Kafka

Thank you for writing about this. It is an important point! I agree with you.

January 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLaura Sheman

I agree that it's always good to get attention with my writing I am like everyone else when I say that I don't want to give up any rights for a chance to win five hundred dollars and some feedback. Instead even though I am a newbie I think I would rather wait for the right one which means taking the time and care to read the fine print :)

January 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterK.D.Storm

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