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The Ins and Outs of Free Writing Contests
(free writing contests)
Free writing contests are available by the thousands. They are virtually a dime a dozen on the Internet. No matter what your niche is in the writing community there is a free writing contests out there for you. How do you know which ones to enter and which ones are legitimate? That?s simple. You do what you do best-- research.
While providing the story for the free writing contest will probably be the easy part, researching the thousands of available contests will be a daunting task. If this is un-chartered water for you, you have the start at the beginning. Finding what free writing contests are available. Grab a notebook or start a word document and list the contests that are available. Beside each contest name you will want to put what kind of writing they are looking for and when it needs to be done by. By doing this first you will be able to eliminate any that do not coincide with your writing niche or with your schedule.
Now the free writing contest research begins. Finding out if a contest is worthwhile and legitimate is comparable to running a background check on a person. First check the contest website. Do they have all contact information available? Do they tell you what company is hosting the contest? If they are not, you will have likely found warning number one that it is a scam. So scratch those off your list or at least move them to the bottom until you can find out more information on them. Start asking around to colleagues and writers groups. Search the writing forums and the Internet scam sites. The Better Business Bureau is also a good place to look.
Once you narrowed the free writing contests down to the legitimate ones, read the contest rules and regulations. Some contests require you signing over all rights to a story even if you don?t win. Are you willing to do this? Giving up rights to you writing is a lot easier to do when you are getting something in return. After you enter there is no going back, so make sure this is what you want to do.
The final thing you need to look for is if the contest is just a cover up to get you to buy services or products. This does not necessarily mean they are a scam or don?t actually award winners. It simply means that they will try to entice you to use their critiquing services or offer you a book at a reduced fee that your work will be published in. Being published sounds like a great deal but is it a book that carries prestige that people are going to see?
Many authors think that writing contests will launch their career into a successful endeavor. This is not the case, especially for free writing contests. Even winning the grand prize of a smaller known contest is not going to affect your literary journey. Even though they may not springboard your career, there are good reasons to join writing contests. You will get unbiased opinions and valuable feedback from the judges. If you make it into the higher rounds, editors could also see your writing.
Ultimately whether you enter a free writing contest the choice is yours. Just ask you self if the time spent writing and researching the piece you choose to enter is worth writing for free in most cases. The critique and feedback may be the most worthwhile thing you receive from the contest. But then again the judges opinions are a dime a dozen just like the contests.
Fair Use Copyright Law Don?t Overstep the Fair Use Copyright Law Many people are interested in the fair use copyright law. The fair use copyright law enables people to use portions of material that is copyrighted for the purposes of criticism or as commentary. The hard part for many people is understanding what is permissible under the fair use copyright law and what is not permissible. Anyone who writes or publishes should brush up on what is allowed and what is not allowed. Using another person?s words to make news reports, to use as a comment or criticism or to use for research, scholarship, or for educational uses that are nonprofit are generally considered fair use. In these instances, the fair use copyright law allows one person or author to make use of another person or author?s work without asking permission to do so. In situations that do not fall within these specifications you are probably violating someone?s copyright if you use their work ? especially if you are using another person?s work for economic or commercial gain. When you are trying to see if you can use another?s words, you should keep a few things in mind. The answer to the following questions will help you gage whether you would be violating a copyright. First, are you transforming someone else?s work or are you copying it? Second, are you going to be making any financial gains from your work that would compete with the original copyright holder? Third, do you have the author?s permission to quote their work? Just because you list the author and give credit to him or her does not protect you from infringing upon someone?s copyright. Fourth, how much of the original author?s work are you using? If you are using a substantial amount of another?s work, you are probably in direct violation of their copyright. Many publishing companies have set rules on how much material they will allow to be quoted in other sources. Some of these ranges start at 100 words or less. However, there are truly no standards to go by, so be careful. You can not assume that keeping your copying fewer than 50 words will allow you to pass under the radar ? especially if the original piece is hovering around 125 words itself! Lastly, what portion of another?s work are you using? If it is the meat of the book and the most important part of the book, you are probably in direct violation of the owner?s copyright. With a little common sense it is not hard to decide if you are violating someone?s copyright. People who are truly interested in staying within the guidelines of the fair use copyright law usually do a good job of doing so. Many people push the fair use copyright law right up to the line, while others will blatantly cross over it without giving a second thought to the repercussions. When these people are summoned to court to answer for their vagrant disregard for the property and copyright of another they are usually sorry. Sorry they got caught! It is very important that people who take advantage of the fair use copyright law are held accountable for their actions. Without accountability many more people would follow in their footsteps and use another?s works as their own.
Software copyright Software Copyright Difficult to Enforce For those of you who love computer games, you probably know more about software copyright than you ever thought you'd want to know-especially if you have or have ever owned multiple computers. Most new games not only come with special copyrights but also built in security features that are designed to enforce those copyrights. Some have even gone so far as selling you the right to 'use' the material you are purchasing rather than providing you with actual ownership of the software to which they own the software copyright. That bothered me a bit at first, but I've come to understand it's another way of protecting them and their rights as well as controlling or limiting how you use the software they provide. Software copyright is actually quite confusing and hotly debated. Many stores will not accept opened software as returns because the software companies won't reimburse them for the product and they are left holding the bag. It doesn't sound like much but when you think of literally thousands of consumers attempting to return opened software because they didn't like or worse, they only needed to download and install it for it to actually run. Companies that produce computer software have become savvy to the ways of the modern consumer. Those companies that produce computer games especially require that the disk actually be in your player in order for the game to operate properly. This enforced the software copyright to the extent that two people can't reasonably share ownership of the same game, as they both need an actual disk in order to operate the games. But for every solution there is a hacker or budding programmer that creates a new problem for software makers and holders of software copyright to face. One of the latest problems is the virtual CD. The long and short of this is that the computer is tricked into 'seeing' the CD where it should be and carries out the game as though it were. Another important thing to note about software copyright is that there are many programs available that mimic some of the more notable applications for no fee. These are often referred to as open source software and often have excellent if not superior quality to similar programs that are available for fees. One thing I've noticed is that I will often find free open source software, download it, love it and a few months later I will find a more polished version of the same software, by the same company available with a few more bells and whistles for a fee. The new improved software has a software copyright and is not free to consumers but it is also a much better version than what I currently have. It's a great way for new software developers to make names for themselves and get volunteers for the testing process of their development phase. A software copyright offers protection and recognition to the owner of the software. The problem with protecting software is that it is impossible to police properly. That would require walking into every home on the planet and checking each computer to make sure there are no duplicate copies extra copies, illegal copies, etc. Plus, who keeps the actual boxes from all their software? I certainly do not. I could never prove that I was honoring the software copyright if the packaging or receipts were the only way I have of doing so. Most people in the world today honestly want to do the right thing. Software is one of the most expensive purchases people will often make for their home computers, it only makes sense to buy actual copies that have an actual software copyright in order to protect your investment not only in your software but also in your computer.