Xbox Live Originals: Sweatshop Edition
Microsoft and the New York Television Festival’s Xbox Live Originals contest asks you to make a pilot, between 5-15 minutes long, that will air on Xbox Live. The winner will get $100,000 to make six episodes.
That sounds like a great idea, and a great way to start a whole new market for independent producers. Except for this part:
NYTVF and the Designated Entities [read: Microsoft] shall have the perpetual and exclusive right to exhibit, disseminate, or broadcast each entry (and any portion(s) or element(s) thereof) in any manner, media or format now known or hereafter devised, throughout the universe. Each entrant agrees not to exhibit, disseminate, or broadcast, or authorize any third party to exhibit, disseminate, or broadcast, in any manner, media, or format, his or her entry (or portions thereof) and, by entering the Competition, each entrant irrevocably and perpetually waives any copyright and intellectual property rights in and to the entry, including, without limitation, rights of droit moral or similar rights which entrant may now have or may hereinafter become entitled to.
Perhaps this is just boilerplate festival legalese1, but does this not grant Microsoft your copyright? And prevent you from taking the project anywhere else? And allow them to sell your show, on Xbox live or wherever, without ever paying you a dime?
So we should all run out and spend thousands making a pilot, and then donate it to one of the world’s largest corporations?
This is the spectre hanging over TV’s future: that “TV 2.0” will be nothing other than different corporations gatekeeping the content, with even more brutal terms than the old regime.
1 Note that this particular passage of legalese does not appear in the regular NYTVF application form, which merely dictates you not exhibit the film during a six month period, but contains nothing about waiving copyright.