Harlan Ellison venting his spleen

I came across this video way back and thought it was pretty amusing.

And it seems really apt today, because I just got an email about Disney India’s Pitchkiaow contest. They are looking for ‘original’ story scripts.

It’s supposed to be an ‘amazing’ opportunity for us Indian writers – until you read the contest terms (PDF file), and particularly the ‘11. Ownership/Rights’ section.

This paragraph in particular is entrancing -

“Each entrant unconditionally assigns and transfers all ideas, concepts, copyrighted materials and trademarks contained in his/her/its Participation and any and all rights including without limitation “moral rights” in his/her/its Participation. Disney shall be entitled to make use of the Participation or any part thereof in such manner as it shall in its sole discretion think fit, including without limitation the right to make changes, alterations, substitutions and additions thereto, deletions therefrom and adaptations and rearrangements thereof and translations into any and all languages for any use, or not used at all. Disney shall also be entitled to use and exploit the Participation in whatever manner, media and format without incurring any liability to any entrant (including without limitation the requirement to pay any compensation in respect of any use or exploitation of the Participation) or making any acknowledgement of the Participation.”

So, unless I’ve got it wrong, you give up ‘all rights’, including ‘moral rights’, for perpetuity by just participating in this fabulous contest.

They can take your story and use it, without compensating you in any way.

And even if you win, think about it, Rs. 50,000 (about $1162) is peanuts for conferring Disney with all the rights.

No respect for creative people, that’s what this amounts to.

And the sad part is they could have so easily turned this into a win-win opportunity for everyone involved.

Morals from this Story:

  • Don’t be swayed by a ‘Big Name’, unless that Big Name is willing to warm your bank account.
  • Don’t give up all rights, unless you are very adequately compensated.
  • Don’t enter such contests, unless you happen to have scant respect for both your creativity and your time.