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Sydney Opera House to devs: build our app for peanuts, wear patent pain

Hackathon winner to sign away all rights to their code, except right to be sued

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Sydney Opera House has announced it will stage a “hackathon” to find its next app, with the winner to receive $AUD4,000 in prize money and a big fat contract asking them to hand over all code developed during the event. Even losers could be asked to hand over their code.

The famous venue says one reason to enter the competition is “The glory of developing an app for Sydney Opera House which will be seen by millions of visitors every year.”

Entering is good for the CV, then.

Harder to comprehend is clause K in the terms and conditions for the event, as it reads as follows:

“that, by submitting your Entry in this Hackathon, you warrant that your Entry is your original work which does not infringe the intellectual property rights of any third party and assign, on creation, any intellectual property rights in the Entry to the Sydney Opera House Trust and agree to sign any necessary documentation that may be required for us and our designees to make use of the rights you granted.”

The Reg sent asked a lawyer what this meant and were told it translates as “by entering this competition, every last line of code you cut becomes the property of the Sydney Opera House Trust.”

The clause also means that entrants are effectively guaranteeing their apps don't infringe any patents. That's important to note because down at clause Q the Trust says “in the event you breach the warranty set out in paragraph k) above, you indemnify the Sydney Opera House Trust, its officers, employees, contractors and agents against any and all claims that your Entry infringes on the intellectual property rights of any third party.”

In other words, if patent trolls come after us because they think the app appropriates their property, it's YOUR problem, not ours.

There's also some cute stuff in clause O, which reads, in part, “By entering this Hackathon, you agree that use of information in our representatives’ unaided memories in the development or deployment of our products or services does not create liability for us”. In other words, if a mentor sees you do something cool and decides to reproduce it, it ain't the Opera House's problem.

These terms apply to all entries and on our reading of the legalese there's nothing to stop the Opera House mashing up entries it likes into a new form.

On the upside, entrants will be offered “All night coding (with pillows and beanbags) …. with plenty of food and drink” plus “Assistance from industry mentors and the opportunity to network with like-minded people”.

All of the above won't take place in the Opera House but the nearby Quay Grand Hotel. If this sounds like a good way to spend your weekend, circle December 7th and 8th in your diary and fill in the form here for your chance to become one of the 100 lucky coders offered a chance to win the hackathon and the booby prize of much legal interaction. ®

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