Demystifying Your Copyright License Agreement

Demystifying Your Copyright License Agreement

Sona Sulakian
 | 

 

Copyright protects certain original, creative works, such as movies, songs, books, computer software, and even architecture. One perk of having a copyright is the ability to grant permission to others to use your product. So if you want to use copyrighted material or would like to grant the rights to your copyrighted works to another person, you need to create a copyright license agreement. 

 

A Copyright License Agreement is a contract that allows a copyright owner to give another person or company the right to use their copyrighted work in a certain manner, for a certain amount of time, and usually for a fee, often called a royalty. Think of a Copyright License as a rental agreement. In contrast, a Copyright Assignment permanently transfers ownership over your copyrighted material to another person, akin to a sale.


Main Provisions

  • Parties: the contract often uses the generic term “Licensor” to refer to the party that owns the copyright and is granting permission to use the work. The Licensor may also be referred to as the Artist, Author, or Agent. The generic term “Licensee” refers to the party that is receiving the copyright license.
  • Recitals: explain relevant background and purpose of the license agreement. Note if the copyright owner has any co-owners or is the sole owner. 
  • Description of the work(s) to be licensed, including a copy of the work if necessary.
  • Grant of License: explains the scope of the rights extended under the license, including how, where, and how long the work may be used, and other limitations on use. Scope may include permitted uses, term, exclusivity, territory, and any limitations on the Licensee’s right to transfer. 
  • Term: length of time the copyright license is effective. 
  • Exclusivity: Whether the license is exclusive, meaning the Licensor can’t give anyone else the rights to this work. A non-exclusive license allows the Licensor to grant a license to others. A Licensee may want exclusivity for a term, territory, or industry. 
  • Territory: limits where may the Licensee use the work, otherwise the license is worldwide.
  • Limitations on Transfer: the Licensee may not assign or transfer the rights under the license to a third party.
  • Sublicensing Rights: whether the Licensee may sublicense the rights under the license. The Licensor may require written approval to do so. 
  • Waiver of Moral Rights: the creator’s right to attribution and to prevent any modifications of the work. These rights generally may not be assigned.
  • Permissions: describes any third party licenses and other permissions necessary for use and who is responsible for obtaining them. 
  • Representations and Warranties: statements of fact and promises made by the parties to each other to allocate risk. A breach of any of these statements may create legal liability. 
  • Fees: the amount and schedule of fees to be paid to the Licensor for the right to use the work. The fees may be a one time or recurring fixed license fee or royalties as a percentage of gross or net sales.
  • No Modification: the Licensee can’t change the work.
  • Right of Review: the Licensor has the right to review any derivative work that uses >10% of the copyrighted material. 
  • Indemnification: may require the Licensee to indemnify the Licensor for any claims arising from derivative works, and vice versa. The risk should be placed on the party better able to control it. 
  • Confidentiality: the parties may not disclose any confidential information
  • Noncompete: the Licensee can’t use the work to create a competing product.

LawChamps can connect you with an attorney to help you draft a Copyright License Agreement that protects your interests. 

 

This article is intended to convey generally useful information only and does not constitute legal advice. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author, not LawChamps.

 
Sona Sulakian

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