The Guardian Legend Self-Published Rights Grab of the Month

UK newspaper The Guardian in conjunction with Legend Times has announced a new monthly literary prize for self-published authors.

On the face of it this is great news. Finally some recognition of quality writing outside the world of traditional publishing. It could be a great way to throw off that invisibility cloak.

But as always, check the fine print. I’m not a lawyer but it seems to me they’re embracing the new world of publishing with an old-world rights grab.

Terms and conditions, clause 8a:

[You give the Promoters] Permission for your entry or an extract of your entry to be published on GNM websites including but not limited to guardian.com (“GNM Websites”), and you grant GNM a non-exclusive, royalty-free, worldwide licence to use and publish your Competition entry in electronic format (including on GNM Websites and on any social media account controlled by GNM) and in hard copy format (including in GNM publications) for purposes connected with the Competition, and to adapt the entry to enable such publication (including to crop or otherwise edit it for such purposes), and you hereby irrevocably waive, for the benefit of GNM, all moral rights in the entry to which you are entitled;

In other words: they can publish any work submitted (not just the winners), in electronic and print form, edited without your agreement, and you receive no royalties, and you waive all moral rights.

“For purposes connected with the Competition”, yes, I know. My rule of thumb is to assume the other party to any T&Cs is going to try to screw you over as much as possible. Therefore “purposes connected with the Competition” might well be interpreted as “something with the competition name on it”.

So if you submit your book to this competition, they can make money from it, none of it comes to you, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

I don’t think I’ll be entering.

UPDATE (8 April, 8.30pm)

The Guardian has changed clause 8a, presumably after feedback like mine. It now says:

[You give the Promoters] Permission for an extract of your entry to be published on GNM websites including but not limited to guardian.com (“GNM Websites”), and you grant GNM a non-exclusive, royalty-free, worldwide licence to use and publish your Competition entry in electronic format (including on GNM Websites and on any social media account controlled by GNM) and in hard copy format (including in GNM publications) for purposes connected with the Competition, and to adapt the entry to enable such publication (including to crop or otherwise edit it for such purposes). For the avoidance of doubt, GNM may only publish part of your entry for purposes connected with the Competition. In order to use entries submitted by entrants as intended and advised in these Terms and Conditions, (i) GNM may need to edit submissions, but shall endeavour to maintain the integrity of the work as originally created; and (ii) GNM shall use its best endeavours to provide an author credit for all submissions published by GNM in connection with the Competition

This is much better.

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