Young artists are always looking for opportunities, and are often willing to make sacrifices and compromises in their search for a break. And for many, a lack of expertise can lead to mistakes that deprive them of a full share of any profits derived from their work. While some businesses are dealing in good faith with artists, there are others that are seemingly willing to take advantage of young, inexperienced creators without the power to demand a better, more equitable deal.
The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are done in partnership with numerous arts organizations across the country, and solicits submissions or art and writing from students in grades 7-12 for consideration, according to its website. The awards offer young creators the opportunity for local, and possibly national, recognition for their works, and a platform from which they might go on to do even bigger and better things.
Unfortunately, the awards might not be as altruistic as all that. Techdirt reports that as part of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, entrants are required to sing over the rights of their work to the Alliance for Young Writers and Artists, the organization that puts on the awards. The agreement stipulates that the Alliance maintains ownership of the work for a two year period, at which point the student is able to reclaim the work and some rights to it provided that the Alliance is able to locate them based upon the address provided with their submission; should the creator not reclaim their work by the three-year mark, full rights revert to the Alliance. And even when the creators are able to receive their work after the two year period, the Alliance still maintains a perpetual licence to use the work royalty-free for the remainder of the creator's life plus seventy years.
The article also notes that as the contest involves minors, Scholastic and the Alliance might be trying to circumvent the legal prohibition from entering into a contract with a minor by having parents or teachers sign the agreement for the students. Regardless of how they might acquire the agreements, it serves as a lesson to all creators to read and understand the contracts they enter into and to never rely upon the presumed good intentions of other parties.