Ever entered a competition which included some form of content submission? Wondering what your rights are in that transaction? Read on...
Just been sent what looks, on the surface, like an engaging brand promotion with a whizzy prize - $15k all expenses trip to a cool event on the West Coast. I took the time (because I'm a pedant like that) to cast a lazy glance over the Ts&Cs. Here's what I found.
"Entrants irrevocably undertake to grant The Promoter and its affiliates, licensees, promotional partners, developers, and third party marketing entities a royalty-free exclusive license to edit, modify, cut, rearrange, add to, delete from, copy, reproduce, translate, adapt, publish, exploit, and use Entries themselves and the content of and elements embodied in the Entries, in perpetuity in any and all media, including but not limited to digital and electronic media, (whether now existing or hereafter devised), in any language, throughout the world, and in any manner, for trade, advertising, promotional, commercial, or any other purposes without further review, notice, approval, consideration, or compensation."
Ouch. It's pretty brutal, in no uncertain terms that once you submit you are participating in (whether you choose to acknowledge it or not) a rather asymmetric contractual relationship with a brand. What perhaps makes it worse is that your contract with that brand is being administered, as in so many of these types of promotion, by a third party.
These things of course are not uncommon, but this small paragraph is only a small fraction of what runs to 14 pages of small print terms and conditions, just for this one promotion. My degree in law gets me only so far and I'm guessing to those of you not blessed by an expensive law school education much of this might as well be in japanese.
There are too many of these one sided brand promotions out there, where it is very hard to see where the upside is for those people who have given up their time (that generous commodity that brands consistently abuse) to engage with a brand. I'm guessing you'd have to either be incredibly committed to the brand or the prize to take part. Or perhaps incredibly bored with zero sense of protecting your own ideas and personal data to be willing to give the time to make it worthwhile (I reckon this promotion needs at least a few hours to do the content justice and have a slight chance of winning).
In an age where brands are competing for attention online, it would be sensible for these promotions to contain more grace and less gas.
Failing that, I want to see some Ts&Cs that start "In this here Promotion, your name is Peaches..."