Update: An earlier version of this article included information, shared by Pink Floyd, which stated that the British Film Institute (BFI) was working with the band on their animation contest and would be part of the selection jury. The BFI has since responded to our request for comment and clarified that they are not involved in any way with the competition, so we have removed any reference to the organization from our copy. Pink Floyd has also removed references to the BFI from their contest page.
Pink Floyd has announced an animated video competition for the 50th-anniversary release of Dark Side of the Moon. The response from the creative community has been overwhelmingly negative, with hundreds of people on social media calling the contest exploitative.
The iconic British rock band put out a call last week to “a new generation of animators” to create music videos for any of the 10 songs on its 1973 album. The group said it has “a rich history of collaborating with animators from the beginnings of the band (Ian Emes, Gerald Scarfe, etc.), and in some cases, the visuals that accompany the songs have become synonymous with the music itself,” further adding that it wanted “to present a fresh take on these timeless aural works.”
At first glance, it might not be obvious why this contest is so objectionable. After all, each selected video’s creator will get a £10,000 ($12,340) prize, with three more cash prizes distributed to the top three selections including a huge £100,000 award for the best of the lot, voted on by a “panel of experts” that includes Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason and Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell (Pink Floyd’s creative director).
It’s strange, however, that while acknowledging the importance animation has played in establishing the legacy of many of the group’s songs, the terms and conditions of the contest show no respect for participants whatsoever. Besides structuring the contest on a spec-work basis (which everyone knows is a big no-no in the arts), the pr-friendly announcement neglects to mention that the rights to all submitted works, even those that don’t win, are immediately surrendered to Pink Floyd Music Ltd in perpetuity.
Perhaps it could be argued that the competition was launched naively with the best of intentions, except that the legalese in the terms and conditions clearly demonstrates that those in charge were well aware of what they’re doing.
Points 23 and 24 of the contest’s terms and conditions read (bolding added by Cartoon Brew):
23. In consideration of the Promoter granting you the limited license of rights set out in clause 22 above, you hereby agree and acknowledge that in submitting your video entry you irrevocably, exclusively and with full title guarantee assign to the Promoter, including by way of a present assignment of future rights, all rights in and to the your video entry (including, without limitation, all copyrights and/or other proprietary rights as defined in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (1988) and/or pursuant to laws in force throughout the world (and any amendments, extensions and revisions thereto) free from all claims and encumbrances for the Promoter to hold the same unto itself, its successors and assigns absolutely for exploitation at its sole discretion in all media, formats and/or configurations (whether now or in the future developed) throughout the world for the full period of copyright and all possible renewals, reversions, revivals and extensions thereof and thereafter (insofar as may be or become possible) in perpetuity, and without restriction and/or further payment to you and/or any third party.
24. Without in any way limiting the generality of the assignment of rights set out in clause 23 above, the Promoter will have the sole right to monetize and use the submitted video entry content from the winners including, without limitation, on Pink Floyd’s YouTube channel and its other social network pages including, without limitation, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and/or Snapchat.
One can only wonder how willing Pink Floyd would be to write, record, and produce a full soundtrack for an animated short then hand over the rights to the songs forever, all for the chance to win a few pounds. Perhaps the band can’t afford to pay artists for their work because they’re struggling financially. After all, they’re only charging £267.42 ($329.74) for the 50th anniversary Dark Side of the Moon box set.
Among the many hundreds of comments from artists criticizing the contest, here are a few that efficiently sum up the problem with the contest:
The person running this social media is getting paid. Whoever thought of this stupid idea is getting paid. Pink Floyd is getting paid. Why would you make an animator or filmmaker work for free? Exposure ain't gonna pay your rent.
— 🎃 Dave Scheidt 🎃 (@DaveScheidt) January 20, 2023
This is completely unethical. Pink Floyd are a huge band with huge budgets and yet they’re doing a ‘competition’ which will get them tonnes of free music videos. Do they realise how labour-intensive animation is? https://t.co/LfXhViM696
— Joseph Wallace (@josephwallaceuk) January 20, 2023