Friday, April 24, 2009

Copyright License Agreements - What Exactly Are They? by Michael A. Fernandez

Don't let the demure size fool you - a Copyright License Agreement is one important document. Any time a company, individual or organization wishes to use any kind of copyrighted material for any reason, they need a signed copyright license agreement for that usage to be legal. Using a document like this is in the best interests of both sides. For the copyright holder, it helps to protect your intellectual property, helps to spell out how you get paid for said property and helps to control how your property can be used and for how long it can be used. For the copyright user, it protects you from getting sued by the holder, and it can even be used as good public relations that such an agreement was reached in the first place.

While some major corporate copyright license agreements can stretch on and on, the average document is only 2-3 pages in length. Even with that small size, the average agreement can feature between 10-15 sections depending on how formal the document is. The average copyright license agreement will start off by naming everyone involved in the proceedings. The next part will spell out who everyone is, what property they own and who they are throughout the rest of the document (licenser, licensee, etc.) Once everyone is properly introduced, the document proper can begin.

Most copyright license agreements start with a Grant of License, which officially grants the party looking to use the copyrighted material permission to use it. The document quickly moves on to spell out who owns the works in question and also the terms under which the copyrighted material can be used. The next part of the document, usually describing the fees and compensation the copyright holder receives for such usage is frequently the favorite part of the contract for one half of the agreement, but not the other. Probably the most important part of the document is the Use of Work section that clearly spells out how the copyrighted material can be used.

Many copyright license agreements will also have areas that spell out how violations in the document are handled and where the document is valid (in what jurisdictions.) It is common for copyright license agreements to have additional documents tacked on at a later date that extend the terms, change the terms or otherwise amend the original document. Overall, a copyright license agreement is a straightforward, brief and very important part of our current legal system.

Michael A. Fernandez is a Copyright License Agreement Research Analyst for RealDealDocs gives you insider access to millions of legal documents online drafted by the top law firms in the US that you can download, edit and print.

RealDealDocs is a division of Practice Technologies, Inc. the creators of, which provides step by step guides to local rules and civil procedure for state courts & federal courts throughout the country.


Shauna said...
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MacGurl said...

Do you need a copyright license if you are not selling the information that is copyrighted?