Have you ever thought about promoting your artwork by giving away some of it for free on your blog?
Whether you decide to have a full-blown contest or just a plain old giveaway, it’s important that you lay down some ground rules up front which will keep yourself safely on the right side of the law.
The best way to share the legalese about your contest is to write a blanket “Contest Rules and Regulations” page, then link to it from your contest announcement post.
To make sure you’re following the laws of your state and the laws of the government, talk to a competent lawyer and draft a “Contest Rules and Regulations” page that specifically addresses your state’s laws and the type of contest you plan to hold.
In general, the contest regulations page should include the following information:
1. Who will judge the contest?
Tell your entrants who will be judging their entries, or overseeing the giveaway.
Something like this will work: “The Dabbling Mum®, its staff, and its owners reserve sole and final judgment as to all matters concerning contests and drawings and the interpretation of the contest and drawing rules.”
2. How can contestants enter?
Explain whether they should leave a comment in the post, fill out a form on your blog, or email you directly. If they are submitting a physical piece of work, slides, or a CD, tell them where to mail their entry and whether or not they’ll be getting it back.
3. Who is eligible to win?
It’s very important that you state nobody under 18 years of age enter the contest because marketing and advertising to minors has specific rules you must follow.
If you’re hosting a contest for U.S. residents only, or limiting your contest to any specific region, say that too.
4. Is there an entrance fee?
The law makes it clear that asking for a fee turns a contest or drawing into a lottery. You are better hosting free contests or drawings. State something like, “No purchase is necessary to enter our contests or drawings.”
5. How many entries per person are allowed?
State specific terms for entering the contest. Only one entry allowed per day, per month, ever, etc.
6. How many winners will be selected?
List the prizes you are giving away and the number of winners who will receive each prize.
7. How will winners be notified? What are their rights?
State how winners will be notified: email, phone, or snail mail.
Then make it clear what happens if you do not hear back from a winner within a specified timeframe. Will you pick a new winner and how will you go about selecting that alternate winner?
Also, explain that entrance and acceptance of prizes gives you the authority to share the winner’s name and photo in various marketing and advertising campaigns. Naturally, assure them that you will not disclose any personal information, like where the contestant lives.
8. When will prizes be awarded?
Give yourself ample time to mail prizes, state that prizes will be mailed within 30 days of getting a hold of the contest winner.
If a prize is lost or damaged in transit and you are willing to replace it with a prize of similar value, state so. If, however, you will not replace the lost or damaged prize, make it clear that you are not responsible for lost or damaged prizes.
9. What are the odds of winning?
You don’t have to be specific, but saying something like “Odds of winning are based upon number of entrants” would be a good blanket statement.
10. What is the deadline for entering?
Be specific about when you will no longer accept entries. “All entries must be submitted by (date) at (time).”
11. Disclose the prize value and tax responsibilities.
Make it clear that the prize winner is responsible for paying all taxes on the estimated value of the prize. If your prize is valued at $600 or more, explain that you will also be filing a 1099 form with the government.
12. Lastly, include a blanket “hold harmless” release.
Simply put, cover your butt.
Include a statement releasing yourself of responsibility for “any claims, damages, losses, injuries, or death including any third party claims, arising from or relating to, in whole or in part, any contest or drawing, including entry and participation in any contest or drawing and acceptance, possession, use or misuse of the prizes.”
While you’re at it, tell your contestants what happens if local, state, or federal law deem any of your contest rules illegal. Like this: “If for any reason, any part of the above contest rules are unenforceable by law, or invalid in whole or in part, the remaining rules shall remain valid and enforceable.”
Hopefully with just a few (OK, several) good rules in place, your contest will go off without a hitch.
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