Why Would I License My Copyright?

A copyright grants many exclusive rights to its owner. The copyright owner can choose to exercise these rights on his or her own or license the rights to someone else. Licensing can provide an easier avenue for obtaining revenue from a copyrighted work. Movies are a terrific example. Very often book authors will license their right to make a derivative work to a movie studio. This is what happened with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The movie rights were licensed from the author Stieg Larsson to Sony Pictures Entertainment. Sony has similar agreements for the Spider-man movies.

Whether or not you want to collect money from the use of your copyrighted work a license is still a prudent idea. A license agreement can do more than simply arrange for the payment of royalties; license agreements can restrict the use of the copyrighted work within certain parameters. A good example is software licenses. The owner of the software, whether it be Adobe Acrobat or the game Minecraft, will license the software to users with restrictions on copying, altering the source code, or using foul language in a game’s chat function.

Any license given by a copyright owner can be exclusive or non-exclusive. Typically a party would pay more for an exclusive license but the terms for a license are unique to each situation. Legally the contracts for both types of licenses are very similar but the law requires exclusive licenses to in writing and signed by all of the copyright owners. A copyright owner’s rights are also severable. In other words, a copyright owner can license the movie rights and printing rights of a book to different people or companies.

Copyright Office

Implied license