The creative team behind Ready Player One—the Steven Spielberg-directed film based on Ernest Cline’s novel about a virtual reality game embedded with ‘80s pop culture references—is reaching out for your help to populate its digital universe.
As noted by Uproxx, Cline recently appeared in a YouTube video (watch clip above) inviting artists to create and submit their own 3-D avatar renderings for potential use in the film. The people at Warner Bros., the studio behind the movie, will choose up to five winners whose work may appear in Ready Player One. Read the contest rules for details about the submission requirements, and note that the top five artists selected will receive exposure via Ready Player One’s marketing and social media campaigns, as well as $1,000 in exchange for assignment of all rights, meaning that WB, as opposed to the artist, will retain the copyright on the design.
From a legal perspective, it’s understandable that the studio would ask for that to avoid any confusion about what might constitute fair use of the avatar down the road. But some commenters on the YouTube clip were turned off by that element of the contest.
“I hope talented young artists understand that they should never hand over their IP rights in perpetuity for ANY amount of money let alone what is offered here,” wrote one. Others countered by noting that the contest says you only assign the rights to Warner Bros. for a three-year period.
Actually, the rules say that “All artists retain ownership in their work excluding artists who have signed an Assignment of All Rights.” Only the winners—those who receive the $1,000, as well as some runners-up who will be paid $250 for their work—will need to sign the assignment of all rights, which does indeed require handing over all rights to the image design. For some people, potentially seeing something they created in a Steven Spielberg movie will be worth that exchange. Either way, this contest serves as a reminder that, when it comes to pretty much everything in life, it’s best to read and fully understand the fine print before deciding whether or not to participate.
More Steven Spielberg: Watch the director and Whoopi Goldberg reflect on his casting of her in ‘The Color Purple’: