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|Posted on October 14, 2011 at 3:55 PM|
NEW! UPDATED OCTOBER 18:
Had a lovely chat with Barry Link over at the Courier yesterday, and here's what he told me. Because the Courier is now owned by Toronto-based newspaper giant Postmedia, they were required to add a bunch of legal whatnots to a contest that had quite happily run for years with a set of rules about "five sentences long."
We can probably chalk this up to a series of unfortunate events: some dork in Postmedia's legal department adapted a boilerplate from a sweepstakes and sent it along, then it got overlooked at the Courier office (which Barry admits was a pretty big oversight) and was uploaded to their website, and then Jenn Farrell, cub reporter, totally freaked out.
The good news? Barry assures me that the old rules still apply, that there are "no prohibitions" on the content of stories, and that there is, in fact, a panel of judges selecting the top three entries. Whew! I think the only main difference from previous years is that there is NOT a cap on the number of entries received, as in years past. Barry said this was because they've had to turn away writers at the Courier office and they don't want to do that.
The Courier will be updating the rules online very shortly, if they haven't as of this reading, and will be posting a correction in this Wednesday's edition of the newspaper. So there you have it! Will you be entering this year?
I was really looking forward to entering the Vancouver Courier fiction contest this year for a number of reasons:
On or about November 14, 2011 in Vancouver, BC, three (3) entrants will be selected by a random draw from all eligible entries received during the Contest Period. Each entrant shall be eligible to win only one (1) Prize. The odds of being selected as a potential winner are dependent upon the number of eligible entries received by the Sponsors. Before being declared a Winner, the selected entrant shall be required to correctly answer, without assistance of any kind, whether mechanical or otherwise, a time-limited mathematical skill-testing question to be administered during a pre- arranged telephone call or by e-mail, to comply with the Contest Rules and sign and return the Release (described below).(b) The judges, in their absolute discretion, shall select the Winners based upon the above criteria. The decisions of the judges shall be final and binding and may not be challenged in any way.
Why even bother having the contest anymore? (Yeah, I know the answer is "money".) So I guess the real question is, why bother entering? I'm sure many people who have entered before will enter again this year, with the (perfectly reasonable) expectation that their work will be evaluated on its merits by a group of qualified judges. And they are being misled. I was almost one of them. Sure, it's all there in the legal document, but if all you have is the registration form, you'll find no mention of how the winners are selected. Presumably, at least some of this year's "competitors" are going to print and sign their happy little form and drop off their entry without ever knowing they've been had.
Oops, you forgot something.
The words you entered did not match the given text. Please try again.
"By providing the Work to the Sponsors in connection with the Contest, each entrant shall retain all right, title and interest (including copyright) in and to the Work, and shall grant to the Sponsors a worldwide, gratuitous, irrevocable license to copy, use, modify, edit, reproduce, display, adapt and transmit the Work in whole or in part, for use in all media now known or hereafter devised in perpetuity beginning on the date of entry, including, but not limited to, in connection with the administration, promotion and exploitation of the Contest or for any other reason."
So you may not win now but they can, at any point, publish or use your entry without any compensation.
Also, to make the "random draw" aspect even more odious, just as with any such contest, you can enter without entering:
"For no purchase entries, clearly print your name, complete mailing address, daytime telephone number, email address and age at time of entry on a plain piece of paper and submit it to the attention of 16th Fiction Contest c/o The Courier, 1574 West 6th Avenue, Vancouver, BC V6J 1R2."
So yeah, all in all a thoroughly illegitimate and unartistic approach to what sounds previously to have been a perfectly good fiction contest.