Have you ever created a piece of work that you were proud of? Whether it’s a written article, a photograph, or a design project, creators often feel a sense of accomplishment when they put their skills to use and produce something unique. 

However, once the work is finished, you may face another challenge – how can you protect your creation from being used without your permission? The answer lies in copyright licensing. This legal concept allows creators to grant permission for others to use their work while still maintaining control over how it is used.

In this blog, we will explore the basics of a copyright license agreement, the different types of licenses available, and how to create one that suits your needs.

What is a Copyright License Agreement?

A copyright license agreement is a legal contract between the creator of a work (known as the licensor) and another party who wants to use that work (known as the licensee). This agreement outlines the terms and conditions under which the licensee can use the licensor’s copyrighted work. 

The main purpose of copyright licensing is to:

  • List out the specific details of the agreement between you and the licensee. This includes what work is being licensed, how you will be compensated, how it can be used, and the length of the copyright license agreement.
  • Prevent unauthorized use of your work by giving you legal protection in case of infringement.
  • Clearly define the rights and responsibilities of both parties involved, reducing the potential for misunderstandings or disputes in the future.

Types of Copyright Licenses

There are two main types of copyright licenses: exclusive and nonexclusive.

Exclusive License

An exclusive license grants the licensee sole permission to use the copyrighted material. This means that no one else, including the licensor, can use the intellectual property during the agreement terms. The licensor also cannot grant any other licenses to different parties for this particular work. 

Typically, the licensee pays more for this type of copyright licensing as they have exclusive rights to use the work.

Nonexclusive License

A nonexclusive license allows multiple parties to use the copyrighted work under the same terms and conditions. This means that the licensor can grant licenses to different parties for the same work as long as they meet the agreed-upon terms and conditions.  

This type of copyright licensing is more common and usually comes with a lower fee than an exclusive license agreement.

What Can a Copyright License Agreement Be Used For?

Copyright licensing can be used for a variety of purposes and industries. Some common examples include: 

  • Software
  • Music Composition
  • Sports team logos and branding
  • Photography 
  • Books
  • Artwork and graphics 
  • Inventions (i.e., patents)

Some types of material that you can’t license include:

  • Factual information, such as news or historical events
  • Slogans, names, themes, and ideas
  • Materials in the public domain

How to Create a Copyright License Agreement

Copyright law can be complicated, so it’s best to consult a copyright lawyer when creating a license agreement.

1. Basic Information

Start by including the names and contact information of both parties involved in the agreement. This should consist of the licensor, who owns the copyright, and the licensee, who is obtaining a license to use it.

Your copyright licensing should also include the following:

  • A clear description of the copyrighted material being licensed 
  • The scope and extent of the license granted 
  • Any restrictions on how the material can be used 

2. Duration of Use

Include the duration of the license, specifying whether it’s a one-time use or ongoing. This will also include any renewal options and how they can be exercised. Again, it’s important to be specific and clear about the terms and conditions of use – a copyright attorney can help ensure that everything is properly outlined.

3. Compensation and Payment Terms

State the amount of compensation to be paid by the licensee to the licensor for use of the copyrighted material. This can be a one-time fee or ongoing royalties. Specify when and how payment will be made, such as monthly payments or upon completion of a project.

It’s also essential to include any consequences for late or missed payments. A copyright lawyer can assist in determining a fair and reasonable compensation amount based on the value of the copyrighted material. 

4. Non-Disclosure Clause

A non-disclosure clause is crucial in copyright licensing agreements to protect the copyrighted material from being shared or used without authorization. This clause should outline what information is considered confidential and how it should be handled by the licensee. Consult with a copyright lawyer to ensure the non-disclosure clause is strong and enforceable.

5. Non-Compete Clause

Similar to the non-disclosure clause, a non-compete clause prohibits the licensee from using the copyrighted material for any competitive or similar purposes. This can prevent the licensee from creating their own version of the copyrighted material and competing with the licensor’s work.

6. Termination Clause

Include a termination clause that outlines the conditions under which the rights granted can be terminated. This may include breach of contract, failure to pay, or violation of the terms and conditions of use. The consequences of termination should also be clearly stated, such as ceasing all use of the copyrighted material and potential legal action. A copyright attorney can assist in drafting a termination clause that protects the licensor’s rights and interests.

Contact ETB Law For Help With Your Copyright Licensing Agreement

A copyright licensing agreement is a complex legal document that requires careful consideration and experienced guidance. By including the key elements discussed above and seeking the assistance of a copyright attorney, you can ensure that your copyrighted material is properly protected and fairly compensated for. 

At Emerson Thomson Bennett, we have a team of experienced copyright lawyers who can assist you in creating a comprehensive licensing agreement. We understand the value of your creative work and will work tirelessly to protect it. 

Contact us today to schedule a consultation. Let us help you navigate the world of copyright law and secure your rights as a creative professional.



We provide complete intellectual property representation to business owners, inventors and artists in all matters related to the establishment and protection of domestic and international patents, trademarks and copyrights. Attorneys at our firm also serve as in-house IP counsel for companies whose needs do not call for a full-time internal position.






"*" indicates required fields

How would you like to be contacted?*
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.