A copyright license agreement allows one person to use another person’s creative work, legally. Many different industries use these agreements, but they have certain things in common. This article discusses those key concepts.

A copyright license agreement allows you to use artwork legally.

A copyright license agreement allows you to use artwork legally.

What Is A Copyright License Agreement?

A copyright license agreement allows one party – called the “licensor” – to give permission to another party – called the “licensee” – to use a work protected by copyright. You can use these agreements with almost any type of creative work: photographs, music, artwork, etc.

A copyright license agreement proves useful when you are creating a business or other venture that will be using other people’s intellectual property. Without such an agreement, one runs the risk of incurring a copyright infringement lawsuit.

These agreements may vary in complexity, but there are a few things that each should cover.

What Things Should A Copyright License Agreement Address?

A copyright license agreement should address a few key topics. We go over a few of them below.

  • Identification of the works to be licensed: It seems obvious, but the first move should be to pinpoint exactly what works are being licensed as part of the agreement. It pays to be as specific as possible and often people will refer to works by name or include other identifying information where they can.
  • License term and scope: Most copyright licenses will be for a specific term. That might be for a few months or many years. Also, there might be restrictions as to the types of usages. Finally, there might be limits to the geographic scope. Consider these carefully so that everyone has clarity on what the agreement covers.
  • Means of compensation: Typically, if someone licenses creative work, they want compensation. You want to be clear on what that compensation looks like. Will it be paid as a flat-fee? All at once? Will there be royalties involved? Sometimes these questions get tricky so it’s best to give them attention and get professional advice.
  • Exclusivity: You want to know whether or not a given work can be licensed by more than one person. A non-exclusive license means more than one person can use the work. Determine if that matters.

Note that this does constitute a complete list, but the points above show the most important things to take into consideration when entering into a copyright license agreement. Certain legal terms support the above, so it pays to speak with an attorney to make sure that everything is just right.

Final note: A copyright license differs from a trademark licensing agreement.

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