Warning: Long ramble about intellectual property ahead. Click Here for tonight’s sketch if you’re not interested.
There’s a bit over a week left in that D&D contest, and I haven’t touched my entry since last night. Instead I mulled over the terms of the contest as well as what would happen if I were to win.
There’s a lot out there on the pros and cons of art contests, along with its much-maligned (but still widely embraced) relative, crowdsourcing, and We Love Fine’s contest (which I am still excited about, see below) is not that much different. Intellectual property is a scary thing, and
The first thing in the contest’s TOS (which you must agree to in order to enter) that jumps out at me is this (emphasis added):
- WeLoveFine’s Rights to Entries: By participating, you: (a) assign or agree to assign WeLoveFine all right, title and interest in and to Wizards of the Coast or it’s deignee Entry and the Design that is incorporated into the Entry, including WeLoveFine’s right to modify, amend or otherwise change the Entry, and you agree to execute any documents necessary to effect assignment of the Entry to WeLoveFine, all throughout the universe for any purpose, without limitation, and without additional review, compensation, or approval from you or any other party; (b) forever waive any rights of copyrights, trademark rights, privacy rights, and any other legal or moral rights that may preclude WeLoveFine’s use of your Entry, or require any further permission for WeLoveFine to use the Entry; and (c) agree not to instigate, support, maintain, or authorize any action, claim, or lawsuit against WeLoveFine or Hasbro, Inc. on the grounds that any use of the Entry, or any derivative works, infringes any of your rights as creator of the Entry, including, without limitation, copyrights, trademark rights, and moral rights. Entrant agrees that WeLoveFine and Hasbro, Inc as the irrevocable attorney to these rights and file documents. Entrant must provide reasonable support to prefect such rights and defend lawsuits.
I could be misinterperting this; I’m not a lawyer, but I like to think that I’m a reasonably smart person. While I completely understand that WeLoveFine runs what are essentially fan art contests, and the sponsors of such would own whatever properties are depicted in any entries, the idea of entering the contest and immediately surrendering all rights to the entries, win or lose, seems onerous to me. The language above also seems at cross-purposes with this last line in the Contest FAQ:
If I don’t win, does WeLoveFine keep my design?No, this is just a design contest, but if your design does not get picked, it’s still your design!
The idea that submitting an entry also indemnifies the sponsor from any legal action from them using or making derivative work is also more than a little offputting. Again, I spent the last two days sketching iconic (and probably trademarked) creatures from a very popular brand; fair use notwithstanding, I don’t know if I’d have a leg to stand on in the event that someone decided I was doing something with property I shouldn’t be. At the same time however, we live in a world where this is not only widely accepted, but also encouraged.
I present to you TeePublic, a site I have been considering applying to for a little while. Their FAQ specifically states:
Are there any content restrictions on designs?
We reserve the right to remove designs we feel are in either extremely poor taste or violate copyright laws. Use your best judgment; don’t steal designs or use copyrighted trademarks and don’t be racist or an ass. Other than that, have fun. In an effort to keep up the overall quality of work on the site we will also take down designs we don’t feel are up to snuff.
Despite this, at the time of this writing, about 86% (26/30) of the designs on the front page involve trademarked characters or the likenesses of actors, sometimes both. Some are clearly parody, some, not so much, and still others are clearly not.
Why do I mention this? Because TeePublic will let me keep all my rights to my artwork, as well as go through the trouble to make the shirts and ship them, and pay me around 20% (as of this writing $4 on a $20-$22 sale, $2 on a $14 sale) of the sale price of the shirt, as opposed to giving away all my rights to a piece of art that may or may not be chosen as a work-for-hire based at least partially on fan voting.
Sigh. All that having been said, there’s still a very good chance that I’ll enter, as I would like to get something in front of someone at WotC, and based on the current crop of entries as of the time of this maudlin rambling, I could probably win or at least place by just submitting my poorly-composited sketches.
But, again, those are just my somewhat-jumbled thoughts on a very complicated subject. here is a dragon:
Interestingly enough, I think that all the D&D on my mind lately had me thinking of the tarrasque with the forward-pointing horns, but I got far enough away from that in the end.
I kind of rushed it towards the end; now that I’m looking at it more closely, I realize that I stopped shading it in parts (perhaps to jump to other parts, or maybe because I still didn’t know what to do)