Are you hot to design the interior of Toronto’s new streetcars, or LRVs? There was a contest inviting you to do just that.

Interior with grey, red, and white seat colours

The gamut of options ran from A to C (you are asked to choose from white, red, or grey), and you cannot rearrange any objects inside the LRVs whatsoever, but those aren’t the biggest problems.

Here is the biggest problem: If you submitted your work, TTC can do whatever it wants with it.

Entrants will receive no monetary payment for their submission. […]

All entries (including the images) become the property of the TTC and its assigns and will not be acknowledged or returned. By submitting an entry, entrant grants to TTC an irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide licen[c]e in perpetuity to reproduce, broadcast, communicate, distribute, adapt, modify, create derivative works from, and otherwise use all or any part of the entry and its accompanying images in any media throughout the world, and waive all moral rights in and to the entry and its accompanying images without further compensation to the entrant.

The winner consent [sic] to the use of his/her entry, any images submitted and name by TTC for publicity, advertising or informational purposes in any medium or format without further compensation or notice.

To translate the foregoing:

  • You work for nothing.
  • TTC (2010 budget $1.4 billion) owns your work, but – oxymoronically – acquires only a “nonexclusive” licence. (You can make a copy of what used to be your own work.)
  • TTC can “adapt” or “create derivative works from” your own work, which includes simply handing it to or selling it to anyone they want, like its exclusive streetcar vendor, Bombardier (2010 gross revenues $19.366 billion).

In fact, if you “win” the competition, one of those things is exactly what will happen. The work you did – for nothing – will be handed over to Bombardier, one of TTC’s “assigns,” for manufacturing. This $20 billion consortium will use your free labour to add value to its products and services.

Is that all? No, because the entire exercise amounts to work on spec. TTC remains ignorant of the graphic-design field, despite having been educated on its norms at least once before when it also induced applicants to work with no guarantee of acceptance, let alone payment. On that other occasion, the requirement for spec work was rescinded. This time it just sailed right through.

Spec work is unethical and is unequivocally banned by the Registry of Graphic Designers of Ontario (PDF). RGD doesn’t have enforcement teeth worth talking about here, but Ontario is the only place that actually has a legally recognized registry of graphic designers, so you’d think a public agency would actually pay attention to the ethical standards set out by a body authorized by the provincial legislature.

This would be a naïve hope. When it comes to any aspect of design whatsoever, TTC remains dumb as a mule.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2010.06.11 12:00. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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