Who's Idea is it anyway aka pardon me if I didn’t read the smallprint?

Written by sandip mahal on . Posted in Media & Representation

You have a camera, some editing equipment and a great idea and you want to get it out there, you can put it on youtube.com and tell everyone where it is but do you read the smallprint before uploading? You are, in fact, giving up the rights of your magic idea to them if they decide to sell it on for a profit of which you will not be in on. They don't actively try to steal your work and the upside though is you have an open platform to show your talent to the world, it can be a small price to pay and the quickest way to get recognized considering the success stories you hear.

Now, there are a few smaller niche video sites cropping up where you can upload your great idea to them. They give you incentives like a cash prize and have famous judges who might look at your genius piece but the same small print is still in place and oftentimes even more onerous in the long term. Now, are you are going to put your idea in the hands of someone/guys who have started a website and rather than develop their own catalogue they do open calls for submissions? I have seen a few websites where they look good and flashy but are entirely built on user content as opposed to homegrown developed content and by ticking that box you are surrendering your rights to them too.

The user generator doesn't have much to gain really when your work can be taken from you. Read the following smallprint lifted from one website I won't name (and shame):

Grant of Rights. By uploading a Short for any Competition, you hereby grant to the Company the following rights (the "Rights"):

a. an exclusive license for the License Period of all rights in the Short and all underlying material thereto, including, without limitation, the exclusive, worldwide right to exploit, sublicense, and assign the Short and all ancillary and derivative rights thereto in all media now known or hereafter devised in any and all languages (the "Exclusive Rights")

including the right to permit such Short to be posted and viewed by third parties on the Company's website;

d. the right in perpetuity to use your name, address, voice, statements, biography, photograph, image and other likenesses without any further consideration, in any medium, including, without limitation, in still photos, film, video, television, radio and the internet, and in any publicity carried out by Company or any of its related entities, insurers, promotions companies and service providers, unless prohibited by law.

e. during the License Period and in perpetuity if the Option is exercised, the right to change, add to, take from, translate, reformat or reprocess the Short in any manner

f. In addition, Company has a first opportunity of good faith negotiation to represent any Member who is a Semi Finalist or Finalist of any Contest for management and/or agency representation worldwide, subject to any third party obligation by such Member.

In a nutshell you put the effort in your work, they didn't give you any front money and you surrender your rights AND they can represent you if you become famous. The prize seems to be a smokescreen to grab your content.

Even certain BBC radio shows have been recently making open calls to submit your ideas. You send your great idea to an email address and you will be duly credited and paid but you have no control over them rewriting it and molding it to their way. No payoff for the creator really. At least the show I can name (on BBC radio) 7 on 7 actually made open calls for new and emerging writers and would nurture the people that were selected.

Not all upload sites are bad. Like youtube, funnyordie.com tries to build a community to share your work for the wider issue and have an opportunity to make a serious living if you get noticed. In fact with the former they have introduced a revenue sharing scheme where any profits advertising are split 50/50. People like The Office creator Ash Atalla is developing material that's viewable on his site to the same quality standards as peak time television. My website is small but I don't aim to steal your work (good/bad business sense?) but it means I can develop my work and be conscious that what is pushed forward is for those that want to do good work! If anyone wanted to contribute I wouldn't put an "I own you" clause. Good or Bad business sense?