Digesting a Basic Terms of Agreement for Community Events
10/26/2011 7:39 AM
I recently wrote an article on rules for community tournaments. Those rules covered the game settings and specifics. I wanted to post a sample of a terms of rules for entry agreement for entry into these events. These rules can be used for anything if you tailor them correctly. I used a short version because I wasn’t running a sweepstakes, the tournaments and contests were primary based on skill.
I would like to make it clear, I am not a lawyer by any means. So please use caution and do your research or contact a lawyer if you use anything in this post. However, I was given this to me by a lawyer years ago.
1. No Purchase Necessary
It is important to write as the first rule "No Purchase Necessary" on top of the rules page. This basically keeps your contest a true contest/event and not a lottery which is illegal. It also falls under the broadcasting law in the United States for trasmission of contests. You need to mention "No Purchase required when transmitting the advertisement".
2. Sponsor not responsible for lost, stolen, illegible, incomplete, postage due, misdirected, mis-redeemed coupons, late mail entries, incorrect or inaccurate entry of information by participants, lost transmissions, interrupted or unavailable network, server or other connections, scrambled transmissions or other errors or problems of any kind whether mechanical, human or electronic, technical malfunctions of the computer hardware, software or a combination thereof or problems associated with any virus or any other damage caused to participants' systems.
This paragraph basically holds you, the sponsor harmless for any problems that arise due to communication between your server, and up to the transmission of entry from the participant. It also protects the sponsor from any computer problems between the contest host and user.
3. By accepting a prize, winner agrees to release Sponsor and (Your Entity Name Here), affiliates, directors, officers, shareholders, employees, advertising and promotion agencies, and other coordinating agencies involved in the tournament, sweepstakes or contest from any and all liability whatsoever for any injuries, losses, or damages of any kind caused by entering the sweepstakes or for damages of any kind caused by any prize or resulting from acceptance, possession, or misuse of prize awarded, or while preparing for, participating in, and/or traveling to and from any prize-related activity. Subject to all federal, state and local laws.
This paragraph basically protects you from any harm if the prize does something to the entrant's computer or causes some kind of freak damage. For example, if someone wins a video card and they install it incorrectly. They could hold you responsible. This paragraph basically says its on them to fix it and your not responsible.
The sponsor is not required to pay any taxes you may incur for winning a prize or accepting a prize. The participant agrees pay any taxes necessary and can manage the prize how ever they see fit.
4. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to cancel or suspend this sweepstakes/contest, in its entirety or only the Internet portion, should virus, bug, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or other causes beyond Sponsor's control corrupt the administration, security, fairness, integrity or proper play of the sweepstakes/contest. Sponsor is not responsible for incorrect or inaccurate entry information whether caused by Internet users or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the sweepstakes/contest by an technical or human errors which may occur in the processing of the entries in the sweepstakes/contest.
This paragraph basically gives the host and sponsor of the contest rights to cancel, modify or change the event for any reason necessary. This rule is used more often then you might think. Lack of interest or participation are common examples. Programming bugs and unstable code do happen from time to time in software. I once crashed a sponsors server due to overwhelming traffic during a tournament and had to delay it.
5. Sponsor and Host reserves the right at its sole discretion to disqualify any individual it finds to be tampering with the entry process or the operation of the game or web site or to be acting in violation of the Official Rules
I added this rule to my tournaments because cheating could be a major factor in tournaments. If I caught a player cheating, I could point to specific rules of entry for a valid reason. It also made sure your rules of the tournament were followed with no deviation.
I will post a more complex rule set that is very technical and provides a deeper understanding of terms of rules for entry in the near future. This sample should be sufficient for a basic contest.