Scholastic Wants To Help Young Creators Showcase Their Works By Stripping Them Of Their IP Rights

from the we'll-take-it-from-here,-kids! dept

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards wants to help show youths the power of artistic creation… by taking away those artistic creations irrevocably for the next two years minimum.

Sasha Matthews, 13-year-old cartoonist, was the first to spot this bit of intellectual property land-grabbing late last year in the terms and conditions that must be followed by Scholastic Award entrants.

The student irrevocably grants an assignment transferring to the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, Inc. (“Alliance”) all right, title, and interest (including all copyrights) in and to the submitted work (“Work”), such that the Work, and all rights relating to the Work, shall be the exclusive property of the Alliance, subject to (a) the student’s non-exclusive license, hereby granted, (i) to maintain and make limited display and distribution of a copy of the Work as part of the student’s portfolio solely for purposes of identification and reference to the student’s body of works, and (ii) to submit a copy of the Work for consideration for other scholarships, awards, and recognitions, and (b) such other licenses and authorizations as the Alliance may, in the exercise of its sole discretion, grant to the student upon the student’s written request.

To submit an entry is to capitulate to Scholastic and cede ownership of your creative work. Scholastic points out it's only for two years, as though that excuses this unneeded clause in the participation terms. There's no reason Scholastic needs an exclusive license to the creation of others to present artists' works to others. Setting it up this way controls how the creator gets to use their own work, allowing Scholastic to benefit exclusively from the works of others.

Yes, the contract (so to speak…) sunsets after two years, but even then there are stipulations. Scholastic is still allowed perpetual, royalty-free use of students' submissions. And this rollback of grabbed rights only comes into play if Scholastic can locate participants after the two-year exclusive license expires.

Alliance will return the Work upon the expiration of the two (2) year period commencing with the date of the national award notification. The Alliance will attempt to notify the student using the contact information provided on the Submission Form, (or, if applicable, such contact information as the Alliance shall have later received), prior to returning and shipping the Work to the home address provided. Students are obligated to notify the Alliance if their address or other contact information changes and will be solely responsible for any non-delivery or loss of, or damage to, the Work that may result from my failure to do so. If Work is returned to the Alliance for reasons including, but not limited to, refusal of delivery or failure to provide forwarding instructions, the student understands and agrees that the Alliance hold my work up to three (3) years from the date of the national award notification. If the Work is not retrieved by the student or on the student’s behalf once the three (3) year period has lapsed, the student understands and agrees that exclusive ownership of the physical Work will transfer to and fully vest in the Alliance automatically and immediately upon the expiration of this period, and that the Alliance, as the owner of the Work will have the right to continue to store, destroy, use or display the physical Work as it may choose in the exercise of its sole discretion. In such event, the student shall, and hereby does, assign to the Alliance and its successors all right, title and interest in and to the physical Work.

Miss the three-year cutoff (possibly through no fault of your own) and the work becomes the sole, indisputable property of Scholastic. Even if the artwork is retrieved in a timely fashion, it still won't belong solely to the creator but will forever be partially "licensed" to Scholastic for life+70.

The involvement of minors raises further questions about this boilerplate. Minors can't form contracts so it's likely Scholastic gets around this by sending participation sheets to educators and parents to obtain signatures, but likely without informing those signing on behalf of students of Scholastic's IP intentions.

Scholastic responded by saying it's been super-clear about the terms and conditions. But those reading Scholastic's tweet will notice the FAQ was published the same day as its cheerily-defensive tweet to Matthews, which means it has only recently been upfront about its two-year copyright claim.

Scholastic's participation terms aren't unusual. But that doesn't make them right. There's nothing about this sort of contest that demands full control of submitted works. A limited non-exclusive license would allow Scholastic to display creations and use them in promotional material without fear of a participant lawsuit. Or, for that matter, a Creatve Commons license could be applied with the terms set by particpants rather than Scholastic. But Scholastic obviously feels it's the creators who should give up their rights. The whole thing is ridiculous -- especially since it's standard operating procedure for entities seeking submissions from creators. It only serves to show creators copyright is a handy tool for bigger, more powerful entities but of little use to the creators themselves.

P.S. Matthews drew a little something to keep the pressure on Scholastic to change its submission terms:


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  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 15 Feb 2018 @ 10:11am

    Learn about the fantastic benefits of copyright and the gatekeepers, now playing for young creators

    It appears to me that Scholastic is just trying to educate young creators on the better aspects of copyright laws. When a publisher or recording studio strips a creator of their rights in order to get the 'product' out there, it is for the benefit of the creator.

    /s

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Feb 2018 @ 12:11pm

    Oh! She used the word 'Scholastic' in the cartoon! Trademark Infringement! Take it down!

    /s

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Thad, 15 Feb 2018 @ 12:34pm

    Good on Ms. Matthews. I see a bright future for her.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 15 Feb 2018 @ 12:48pm

    sop..Standard operating procedure

    This is so common..
    On any and every contract a Corporation makes..

    Goto work for a Major corp and many have "ANYTHING YOU MAKE/BUILD/CREATE is ours".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Feb 2018 @ 12:58pm

      Re: sop..Standard operating procedure

      If you actually work for a corporation, they pay you, while in this case you work for yourself, and they grab your work for themselves.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Roger Strong (profile), 15 Feb 2018 @ 1:33pm

        Re: Re: sop..Standard operating procedure

        Which may involve getting the government to do it for them.

        Like how back in 1999 a congressional staffer snuck four words into the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act that re-classified sound recordings as work for hire - effectively preventing copyright from reverting to the artist after 35 years. (In an amazing coincidence, this was shortly before that staffer became a senior official at the RIAA.)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      OldMugwump (profile), 15 Feb 2018 @ 1:04pm

      Re: "ANYTHING YOU MAKE/BUILD/CREATE is ours".

      Well, they did pay for it. That's what working for somebody else means.

      You think other people should pay you to create stuff, but you still get to own it?

      Or what?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Thad, 15 Feb 2018 @ 2:13pm

        Re: Re: "ANYTHING YOU MAKE/BUILD/CREATE is ours".

        You think other people should pay you to create stuff, but you still get to own it?

        That depends.

        Am I an employee, or am I a freelancer?

        What am I creating? Is it an ad? Is it in-house software? Is it a book? What kind of book?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Feb 2018 @ 3:56pm

        Re: Re: "ANYTHING YOU MAKE/BUILD/CREATE is ours".

        A student's completion of homework is a "work for hire" ?

        I don't think so, perhaps someone could provide a legal interpretation.




        "You think other people should pay you to create stuff, but you still get to own it?"

        Perhaps you should ask some of those architects who do actually think that.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        ECA (profile), 15 Feb 2018 @ 6:44pm

        Re: Re: "ANYTHING YOU MAKE/BUILD/CREATE is ours".

        "Well, they did pay for it. That's what working for somebody else means."

        Hmm, you build a replica of the Ironsides, and you NOW have to give to the corp, even tho you made it at HOME..
        PS this type of thing has happened..

        An engineer creates something AT HOME, and the corp claims it..

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Rob, 16 Feb 2018 @ 7:40am

        Re: Re: "ANYTHING YOU MAKE/BUILD/CREATE is ours".

        I mean, it was a competition. Sure, if you were hired by Scholastic to write for them and got paid hourly/salary or whatever, then yes, I would expect it to be their property because I'm their employee.

        If I'm taking what I wrote for me to submit as a contest entry, I'm submitting that in the hopes that I win a prize. This contract affects ALL entrants, not just the winners. Even those that don't get paid get the rights to their property snared for 2 years. If you argue the winners that got paid are likened to employees, then the assumption must be made that the losers (who still lose their IP rights) are slaves as they worked for NO compensation.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    I.T. Guy, 15 Feb 2018 @ 12:55pm

    Scholastic stealing from children. Shameful.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Feb 2018 @ 1:16pm

    WHAT "IP RIGHTS"? Techdirt has for decades been denying validity of Intellectual Property Rights.

    Techdirt holds that it's legal for people to put the entire files of movies costing tens of millions on "sharing sites", but is now shrieking like a stepped-on puppy over brief essays in a writing contest that may reward them? Sheesh.

    STANDARD WRITING CONTEST RULES. Every time you clowns run across a writing contest, you go berserk claiming that what's been standard for over a hundred years is some huge contradictory crime that you've laid bare.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Feb 2018 @ 1:24pm

      Re: WHAT "IP RIGHTS"? Techdirt has for decades been denying validity of Intellectual Property Rights.

      Techdirt holds that it's legal for people to put the entire files of movies costing tens of millions on "sharing sites",

      Citation required, else I claim you are lying again.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Feb 2018 @ 6:12am

        Re: Re: WHAT "IP RIGHTS"? Techdirt has for decades been denying validity of Intellectual Property Rights.

        Entire files? --- Oh Noes!!!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Feb 2018 @ 1:30pm

      Re: WHAT "IP RIGHTS"? Techdirt has for decades been denying validity of Intellectual Property Rights.

      Techdirt holds that it's legal for people to put the entire files of movies costing tens of millions on "sharing sites", but is now shrieking like a stepped-on puppy over brief essays in a writing contest that may reward them?

      Really? That is terrible. Could you provide a link so I can check it out. Not finding anything in my searches.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Feb 2018 @ 3:59pm

        Re: Re: WHAT "IP RIGHTS"? Techdirt has for decades been denying validity of Intellectual Property Rights.

        Yeah - if you see something, say something.
        But I think you might need some evidence - lol

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Feb 2018 @ 2:18pm

      Re: WHAT "IP RIGHTS"? Techdirt has for decades been denying validity of Intellectual Property Rights.

      Are you capable of not lying?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Feb 2018 @ 1:22pm

    "Scholastic's participation terms aren't unusual." -- And yet you still SHRIEK that they're stealing from children!

    Look, clown minion, Scholastic just wants assured able to use the writing in promotions.

    STANDARD. NOT UNUSUAL.

    Next you'll be shrieking that movies demand not only using a person's images in the movie, but their likeness on posters! Is there no end to the evils of this brutal copyright regime?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Feb 2018 @ 1:29pm

      Re: "Scholastic's participation terms aren't unusual." -- And yet you still SHRIEK that they're stealing from children!

      Look, clown minion, Scholastic just wants assured able to use the writing in promotions.

      That can be done by asking for a limited license, which lets the creator go on to publish the work on their own site, or even try to make money from it via the likes of smashwords, or whatever else they wish to do with their work.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 15 Feb 2018 @ 1:48pm

      Re: "Scholastic's participation terms aren't unusual." -- And yet you still SHRIEK that they're stealing from children!

      The terms being “standard” does not stop those terms from being horseshit.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Feb 2018 @ 2:20pm

      Re: "Scholastic's participation terms aren't unusual." -- And yet you still SHRIEK that they're stealing from children!

      The ability to use the writing in promotions does not require that the students transfer the copyright to Scholastic.

      Shriek all you want.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Feb 2018 @ 3:25pm

      Re: "Scholastic's participation terms aren't unusual." -- And yet you still SHRIEK that they're stealing from children!

      The only clown shrieking here is you blue buy.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Toom1275 (profile), 16 Feb 2018 @ 7:13am

      Re: "Scholastic's participation terms aren't unusual." -- And yet you still SHRIEK that they're stealing from children!

      If you had read past the headline, perhaps you would have found this in the article:

      "Scholastic's participation terms aren't unusual. But that doesn't make them right."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Thad, 16 Feb 2018 @ 9:12am

        Re: Re: "Scholastic's participation terms aren't unusual to be loved by anyone. It's not unusual to have fun with anyone, but when I see you hanging about with anyone It's not unusual to see me cry, oh I wanna' die."

        Wait. His argument is that if a thing is common, that means it's not theft?

        Cool. Let's go back and apply that reasoning to all his past posts.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 15 Feb 2018 @ 3:09pm

    That'll motivate 'em

    Submit your work to the contest, and if you 'win' it's no longer your work.

    Because nothing promotes creativity and the drive to win in children like punishing those who succeed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2018 @ 10:07pm

      Re: That'll motivate 'em

      "Oh, it's not a swindle. What you do is, see... you give them all your credit card numbers... and if one of them is lucky, they'll send you a prize"

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Feb 2018 @ 4:02pm

    How are the children being encouraged to create more when their copyright is stolen from them? Isn't this the argument used by the copyright enthusiasts? Double standards are pretty much standard I guess.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Feb 2018 @ 5:47am

    Good, maybe this will embolden the children to steal back.

    Please, Scholastic, continue to create a generation that truly, personally understands how ridiculous I.P. law really is, in the hopes they will be the ones to reform our broken laws in the future.

    Our hopes are riding on your success!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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