Firstly, I would like to establish a few points, to make my position clear:
+ I am all for involving the market/community in designing product;
+ I am not advocating for financial compensation, and I believe the prizes are appropriate;
+ I have relevant experience with design contests, specifically related to the ski industry;
+ I am aware that there are legal issues related to copyright;
+ However I am also aware that you can run a contest with rules that are fair for all parties.
Now, my argument. Below is the fine print that First Drop provides on their contest page, on their website here http://www.firstdropouterwear.com/fd/contest.html
"Winners may also be considered for possible future design work for First Drop. First Drop has full legal rights to all designs (partial or whole) submitted
as part of this contest. First Drop has the right to use any submission (any design that is used will receive an accessory prize pack) and all submissions
are the property of First Drop."
This is an issue that is prevalent in many amateur/semi-pro caliber contests such as this one. The sponsor of the contest repeatedly outlines the fact that ALL SUBMISSIONS, whether selected as the winning entry or not, becomes the sole property of the sponsor which implicitly states that the sponsor may do whatever it pleases with any design submitted without acknowledgement or appropriate compensation to the designer.
Now while in this case the sponsor does state that it will compensate the designer, the compensation is inadequate in comparison to what the winner is receiving. MEANING, that by submitting your design you have given the sponsor permission to use the design 2, 3, 4 years down the road with an "accessory pack" as compensation, regardless of whether or not your design was at par with, or higher quality/caliber than the submission that was selected as the winner.
Furthermore, the sponsor does not actually require retaining the rights to any design but the submission they intend to use for production. There is a very good precedent to this exact issue, in which a sponsor amended their fine print to ensure a fair agreement for all entrants. This contest, similarly to the one in question, did have questionable fine print to begin with. However, once the issue was noted and the arguments made, the sponsor decided to amend the fine print and proceeded with the contest a decision that not only ensured the legitimacy of the sponsor and attracted higher quality entries, but also set a precedent for this issue in that it proved contests may be run fairly and still produce the results the sponsor is looking for.
The only rights retained by the sponsors were regarding the winning entries, and the rights of all unsuccessful submissions remained with the rightful owner, the designer.
TJ Schiller Ski Design Contest 2010: http://newschoolers.com/ns/forums/readthread/thread_id/490668/page/1/
There is absolutely NO reason, for First Drop to be operating their contest in this manner, and I highly recommend the sponsor amend the copyrights clause in their fine print. Doing so will not only produce higher quality entries from designers who care about their work, it will also demonstrate that the company does in fact care about fair treatment of the community they are marketing their products to.
Thank you for reading my argument, I look forward to your responses.