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Saying NO! to Speculative Creative Project Requests

The NO!SPEC crusade has recently launched its web site in an effort to educate both creatives and those who buy their services about the dangers and damaging effects caused by speculative work and contests. The initiative was developed by a group of visual communication designers across the globe who share a common passion for their industry, ethical business practices and wanted to take a firm stand on the issue of speculative ("spec") work requests. The site can be found at www.no-spec.com.

Over the past several years, there has been a disturbing increase in the number of spec-based "contests," particularly in the area of logo design. In addition, more and more companies are requesting that creative projects be done on a speculative basis. Spec projects are those that provide no guarantee of payment for those submitting work. In essence, a creative (graphic designer, photographer, illustrator, writer, etc.) is asked to invest both time and resources into the project with the client only paying for the design they prefer. In many cases all intellectual property rights to the work by the creative are also forfeited to the client.

Contests, or creative competitions, are a particular concern as they offer the allure of notoriety and potential cash prizes. The trend has even moved into the corporate world where large companies, with more than adequate resources to pay fair market value, are holding competitions to procure their creative needs. Typically, the winner receives a prize that is below market value for their design. In many cases the contest sponsor takes ownership and all rights to all submissions.

Through its site, NO!SPEC provides resources and information for creatives about the nature of spec work, how to identify it and how to take a stand against it. In addition, the site provides businesses with information about why making speculative work requests is both harmful to the creative community and potentially dangerous for their business. NO!SPEC also provides information about how buyers of creative services can ethically procure creative services.

The NO!SPEC initiative includes contacting designers, educators, businesses and organizations, creating NO!SPEC promotional materials, protest letters, and developing petitions. In the future there will be NO!SPEC material for educators to use in classrooms, and more.

With the international support of NO!SPEC, we ask that you please join us in promoting professional, ethical business practices by saying NO! to spec.
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