AVOID Contests That Use Entries for Free Content!

Angela, I know you’re not a lawyer, but I’d like to get your thoughts about this situation:

I recently entered a contest sponsored by a large financial business. The rules state:

“Each entrant (including, without limitation, the Grand Prize winners and each parent or guardian of an entrant under eighteen (18) years of age) grants the sponsor, its parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, distributors, agents (including, without limitation, the Judges), advertising and promotion agencies, licensees, assigns and suppliers, and all of their respective directors, officers, employees, representatives, and agents the absolute right and permission to use his/her name, address (city and state), photograph, likeness, biographical information, statement, voice, and Story, (including, without limitation, any audio or video of him/her participating in the Contest and/or receiving the Grand Prize) in perpetuity for trade, advertising, promotions, publicity and/or any other purposes worldwide in all forms of media now and hereafter known (including, without limitation, print, broadcast and Internet) without future notice or compensation, except where prohibited by law.”

I felt this meant I’d have to retire the story permanently even if I didn’t win, but after thinking it over, decided to enter anyway.

Now someone whose opinion I respect is questioning whether I’ve over-read the wording, and says I can still revise the story and re-submit it elsewhere.

So I’m curious. Did I read too much into that paragraph? I’m prepared to retire the story, because I did read and agree to the terms before entering. Still