How to Start a Copyright Licensing

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An Overview of Copyright Licensing

In Copyright Licensing, a licensor may issue a license to authorise the use of Copyright work to a licensee, sparing the licensee from an infringement claim or illegal use brought by the licensor. The owner or holder of Copyright may grant a license and transfer some or all of his or her rights to others to exploit their work for financial benefits in exchange for a consideration. A license is dissimilar from an assignment as the licensee gets definite rights subject to the conditions stated in the license agreement, but the owner of those rights is not covered with them, whereas in the case of an copyright assignment, the assignee becomes the owner of the interest assigned to them. A license may be non-exclusive or exclusive.

Different Types of Copyright Licensing

There are two different types of Copyright Licensing, and you can check the same below:

  1. Voluntary License: This license is covered under Section 30 of Indian Copyright Act, which defines Voluntary Licensing as “The Copyright owner in any existing work or the potential Copyright owner in any future work may allow any interest in the right by license in writing signed by them or by a duly certified agent. Therefore, the Copyright owner of an existing work or a potential Copyright owner of a future Copyright can issue interest in the right by way of license; in the case of Copyright of future work, the license will come in force only when the work comes into existence.
  2. Compulsory License: This license is covered under Section 31 of the Indian Copyright Act. It's a term used for the statutory license, which gives an exclusive right to do an act without the prior permission of the Copyright owner. Section 31 of the Copyright Act provides for Compulsory Licensing of copyrighted work, which is withheld from the public.

In case a Copyright holder owner has refused to:

  • Allow or republish for the work republication or has refused to permit the performance of the work in the general public due to which the work is withheld from the public;
  • Allow the communication of the work to the public through the broadcasting of such work, or in the case of sound recording, the work recorded in such recording on terms which the complainant considers reasonable.

The Copyright Board can, after providing a reasonable opportunity to the Copyright holder to be heard, subsequently conducting an investigation and being satisfied, may order the Copyright Registrar to issue a Compulsory License to the complainant so that he or she can republish the work, broadcast or communicate the work to the general public, etc.

What are the Copyright Principles Regarding Licensing?

The owners of Copyright enjoy various rights to their works: the rights of distribution, reproduction, display, public performance, preparation of derivative works and in the case of sound recordings, digital transmission. For works of fine art, the Copyright owner also retains moral rights, the right to prevent changes, revision, or distortion of their work. One of the advantages of having a Copyright, of course, is to be able to stop others from violating the work. In some examples, though, a Copyright holder may find it useful (financially or otherwise) to prevent someone else the authority to exercise one or more (or even part of one or more) of the rights of Copyright.

Remember that the licensing of rights is identical to a license but with an important difference; when a Copyright owner or holder assigns their rights to someone, they entirely lose the rights. The main objective of Compulsory Licensing is to make available the copyrighted work of artists, creators, writers, etc., so that they can benefit from the results of their creativity & hard work. However, such work should be available to the people for access. Sometimes, the Copyright owners are not willing to part from their work, so in such an instance, to make the work available to the general people, Compulsory Licenses are issued by the Copyright Registrar.

Licenses can be Exclusive and Non-Exclusive

  1. Exclusive License: This license means a license that presents on the licensee or the person authorised by them to exclude all other persons (comprising the Copyright owner), any right comprised in the Copyright of work.
  2. Non-Exclusive License: In this license, the Copyright owner does not need to surrender their rights and keeps comprising their rights even after granting the license to the other person. It relies on the Copyright holder to decide the time period of the owner; it can be either for a limited or unclear period. There is also a rule that the publisher is permitted to sell the unsold copies to sell after the license expiry period if the work were published in the license duration.

This is also subject matter to the license agreement between the licensee and licensor. The other type of license is the entailed licenses which depend on the situations or by the course of conduct, for instance, an individual sends a letter to the editor of any magazine, newspaper, or any news channel, then they have the right to use and publish it in return of some kind of royalties.

What is Copyright License Agreement?

A Copyright License Agreement provides the contract terms between the licensee and the licensor (Copyright owner). A robust Copyright License Agreement comprises:

  • Identities of parties;
  • Name & description of the copyrighted work;
  • License type;
  • Payment and/or royalty structure;
  • A clean and clear statement of who owns the Copyright;
  • Any restricting details concerning the license like time duration, geography, etc.
  • How the agreement may be cancelled/terminated;
  • Rights being licensed.

Frequently Asked Questions

In Copyright Licensing, a licensor may issue a license to authorise the use of Copyright work to a licensee, sparing the licensee from an infringement claim or illegal use brought by the licensor.

A Copyright is a collection of exclusive rights that automatically vest to someone who creates an actual work of authorship like a song, artistic or literary work, movie or software.

An exclusive license is freely assignable without the licensor's approval, notwithstanding a non-assign ability provision.

An exclusive or transfer license of any or all rights under Copyright Law must be signed and written by the owner of the rights conveyed (or the owner’s authorised agent).

Yes, Copyright can be assigned or transferred entirely or in part.

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