I've seen all kinds of contracts, from the good to the grotesque, and often the worst are for online venues. This one, however, really got me thinking: Why even bother with a contract? Why not just say something like (cue TV pitchman voice): "write it, send it, then forget it"?
OK, here it is – bold, italics and colored type is mine, just so that you don't miss a single miserable rights-grabbing word. The offending offal-eating "publisher" shall remain nameless, not because I think such media world menaces should not be publicly uncloaked, but because frankly, I don't want to deal with them again. Anymore. Ever.
"Rights. You shall retain all of your ownership rights... However…you hereby grant ___and its affiliates a worldwide, non-exclusive, fully paid-up, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, sublicenseable, and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, modify, adapt, prepare derivative works of, display, perform, and otherwise exploit your..submission in connection with ____ and ____'s (and its successor's) business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the ____ site (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels now known or hereafter discovered. You grant _____ and its affiliates and sublicensees the right to use the name that you submit … if they choose. You also agree to irrevocably waive (and cause to be waived) any claims and assertions of moral rights or attribution with respect to your..submission. You also hereby grant to each user of the ____ site a non-exclusive license to access your submission, and to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform …. "
I think what really put me over the top on this one – even though it's horrible throughout – is that someone really thought it would go over well with creative contributors to use the word "exploit" in a rights contract.
Yup, I really want to write for them.