The clock is ticking as the deadline for two important short film competitions are looming closer. The BMW Shorties 2013 and Tropfest South East Asia.
While the process of getting writing a script, putting a team together and screaming “action” is fun, many filmmakers miss out on reading the Terms and Conditions that applies to each submission at film festivals.
Let’s go through some of the important terms and conditions set out by both competitions above. Yes, they are unsightly chunks of words but the Terms and Conditions of any festival/competition is extremely important information for filmmakers.
Participants, as the original creators of the Entries, will retain complete ownership of the Entries. Participants warrant that they hold all rights (including intellectual property rights) in and to the animation(s)/image(s)/ material(s) in the animation and/or film sequences submitted.
Each Participant grants to BMW Group Malaysia a perpetual, nonexclusive, worldwide, royalty-free license (“License”) to use, reproduce, edit, distribute, publish, broadcast, stream, make derivative works of and otherwise exploit in any manner and to authorise third parties to use, reproduce, edit, distribute, publish, broadcast, stream, make derivative works of and otherwise exploit in any manner the Entries, including without limitation broadcasting the Entries on www.bmwshorties.com.my and/or in connection with any activities carried out by BMW Group Malaysia and/or its affiliated companies.
In consideration of the Award Sum, the Winner(s) shall assign any and all rights, including without limitation copyright, in their winning Entries to BMW Group Malaysia. Further, the Winner(s) agree that BMW Group Malaysia shall own any and all rights in the short film(s) that are produced using the Award Sum in accordance with Clause 7 above. The Winner(s) shall be permitted to use his/her Entries and/or the short film(s) produced using the Award Sum PROVIDED ALWAYS that the prior written consent of BMW Group Malaysia is obtained.
So this basically means that by submitting a film to the BMW Shorties competition, you will be granting the organizers, which in this is the BMW Group, a NON-EXCLUSIVE license do whatever they want with your entry.
IF you do win the competition, then you assign all rights to the entry to BMW Group and you still have the option of using it with the written consent of the new copyright owners.
This only applies to the winner of the competition so if your film wasn’t selected, then you still own the rights and can freely submit it to any other competition the world over.
Now, what about Tropfest, the largest short film festival in the world? Many moons ago the South East Asia chapter of the festival was announced, to be held in Penang, Malaysia.
4. Entrant’s Representations and Warranties
The Entrant hereby represents and warrants to Tropfest that:-
(b) the Film was made solely and specifically for the Festival;
(d) the Film has not been, and will not be, available to be viewed by the public by any means, including,
without limitations, by way of the internet, until the Exclusive Licence granted by the Entrant to Tropfest
under clause 5 terminates in accordance with clause 6 or 7, if applicable;
Now, let’s take a look at what clauses 5,6 and 7 says
5. General License
In these Terms and Conditions:
“Exclusive License” means the Entrant grants to Tropfest an exclusive license throughout the universe, in
perpetuity, to distribute, license and otherwise exploit the Film, or any part of the Film, in any and all
media, whether now known or hereafter devised, including, without limitation, theatrical; non-theatrical;
television (all forms including fee, pay, terrestrial, cable, and satellite); pay-to-view, video-on-demand,
subscription-video-on-demand, and near-video-on-demand; home video (all forms including
videocassettes, DVD, Blu-Ray, and all other types of videograms, or other analogous home video
technology, whether now known or hereafter devised); electronic rental, electronic sell-through,
download to own, and all other forms of electronic delivery including internet, online, and mobile
transmission by any and all means, method, process or device now known or hereafter devised; hotel,
airline and ship rights; and all advertising, publicity and promotional rights (including trailers, clips and
6. If the film is not a Finalist
If the Film is not selected as a Finalist for the Festival, the Exclusive License will automatically terminate on
1st March 2014 and all rights granted by the Entrant to Tropfest under Clause 5 will automatically revert to
the Entrant, subject to Entrant’s sole right and option to grant Tropfest a Non-Exclusive License in
accordance with Entrant’s election in the Entry Form. If the film is not a Finalist and Entrant does not opt to
grant Tropfest a Non-Exclusive License, neither Tropfest, nor its assignees or licensees, will have any
rights, including copyright, in the Film after the date stated above in this Clause 6.
7. Finalist Films
If the Film is selected as a Finalist, the Exclusive License granted by the Entrant to Tropfest under Clause 5
will continue in perpetuity.
Take a moment and read through the excerpt above again. No.4 says the film should be specifically made for the festival. No.5, 6, and 7 basically says:
IF you’re not a finalist then you regain all the rights to the film AFTER the 1st of March 2014. Until then Tropfest or in the case of the South East Asia competition, Joe Sidek Productions Sdn Bhd will hold EXCLUSIVE rights for the film.
IF your film gets selected as a finalist, then the same company now owns the EXCLUSIVE right to do absolutely whatever to your film (including screening, broadcasting and further licensing it for money) in PERPETUITY. That means forever and ever. The fate of your film rests entirely in the hands of a production company. Should they decide to compile the films into a DVD and sell it, then you as the filmmaker have no say in it. You no longer have the option of monetizing it on YouTube or even licensing it to any party.
The only thing you still hold is the copyright for a film you no longer own. They will also own the rights to the poster, teaser and trailer you made for your own film.
Do you then have a choice of submitting the film to any other competitions? It is only fair, in the interest of the filmmaker, that the entry should be made available below is the reply I received from the organizers.
Administration & Filmmaker Liaison
Tropfest South East Asia
One would assume that the exclusive rights would be limited to a stipulated time frame but according to clause 7 and clause 5 it clearly states the license is granted “in perpetuity”.
This post is in no way meant put any party in a bad light nor was it based on speculation or hearsay. I would love to be proven wrong in this case but everything written above is surmised from the official T&C document released by the organizers.