To start off, copyright means the legal rights of the owner to the exclusive use, distribution of their own original creative works or intellectual property, as well the right to authorize another individual or group to use and distribute their work. A creative work refers to an original work or material created from human knowledge and intellect, usually in the form of a literary or artwork work. A copyright covers both the creator and owner of the work, and those who were given the permission to use and distribute the work. 

This is what a copyright license agreement is all about. The copyright license agreement is a written documentation that states that the copyright owner gives their permission, or authorizes, for an individual or a company to use and to distribute their copyrighted work for a given period of time. It also stipulates fees to be paid to the copyright owner, the material or work to be used, and the rights of the recipient of the authorization as well.

In essence, once you have made an original and creative piece of work, it is automatically protected on the date of its creation. It is considered as created once it is fixed “permanently” on something tangible, such as papers, or on anything that’s solid and concrete that can show proof that a work has been made, and has the capability of being reproduced, transferred, or communicated. A mark on the piece of work showing the name of the author and the date it was created is sufficient proof of copyright. To register the copyright means to give further legal protection to the owner in case of unauthorized use and distribution. Here are the four top things that any person needs to know about copyright.

Works that are Protected by Copyright: For a work to be deemed as protected by a copyright, it should first and foremost be original and creative, most especially without any signs of duplication. A copyright creative work is also known as OWA, or Original Work of Authorship. Copyrightable creative works include: Literary works such as books, journals, newspaper and magazine reports and articles, conference and business reports, computer software and programs, marketing emails, letters, et cetera; Musical works such as, but not limited to, song lyrics, musical compositions, broadsheets and other musical sheet notations both in digital or non-digital format, sound recordings, music videos; Dramatic works such as plays, screenplays, scripts, choreographs, motion pictures, film scenarios, cinematography, et cetera; Architectural works, including architectural plans, designs, drawings, maps; and even sculptural, pictorial and other graphic art works.Rights of a Copyright Owner: When you have created an original piece of work, you should also be aware of the rights that came along with owning that work. The main principle of being a copyright owner is the right to exclusivity. The owner has the exclusive rights to: Publish and reproduce and distribute copies by way of public sale, lease, or transfer of ownership; Display the work publicly in terms of theater, film, art museums, and through any other forms of platforms or media channels; Perform the work either publicly on stage, film, marketing digital and non-digital transmission in both audio and visual platforms; and to create a follow up secondary work as an offshoot of the first work that was created. Another significant right of a copyright owner is to grant the authority to use, to distribute, to authorize the same exclusive rights, or to transfer ownership of the creative work to another individual or to a company, subject to applicable laws and legal restrictions.Works that are Not Protected by Copyright: Not all original and created works, however, are protected under the copyright law. The following are not protected by a copyright: Facts, ideas, methods, procedures, systems and processes, principles, concepts, inventions, or discoveries. Titles, slogans, names, short words, lettering, typeface, font are also excluded from copyright protection because they do not contain sufficient creativity or authorship to support a claim for copyright. Ingredients used, as well as the process of making and preparing a dish in a recipe are also excluded from copyright protection. Another example of exclusion are those works of which the author has clearly, legally, and irrevocably dedicated for public use and enjoyment.Who can Legally Claim Copyright: There is a need to identify the individual, or the group, that has the right to claim copyright ownership. Aside from the usual sole individual copyright ownership, another instance would be when there are more than two creators or authors, where they have the intention of merging their work into a single, unitary work output, of which the output would not be possible if one of the other contributions was absent. The authors or creators have all claims to the copyright and are considered as joint authors. Another instance is the recipient to whom the transfer of copyright ownership was made to.

One way to promote fame and gain financial success for a creative work is for the author to license out the exclusive rights to use to people who know how to publish, promote, and turn their work into something that reaches a broader audience. A very popular example would be an author licensing out the rights to use his or her book material to a film producer so that the book will be reproduced into a movie screenplay. The authority to use, the process and how it will be used, credits, and shares in revenue are all written down and documented in a copyright license agreement. The following are the common steps taken when creating a copyright license agreement.

Step 1: Identifying the Parties Involved  

The first part is naming all the parties involved in the agreement, including the organization that they’re in, and their contact information as applicable. The word “Licensor” refers to the original owner of the copyright, the one who will be giving the authorization or permission, and the word “Licensee” is the recipient of the rights or permission. After specifically naming all the parties, the words licensor and licensee will be used all throughout the agreement.

Step 2: Recitals

Usually referred to as the “whereas clauses”, gives a brief background description of the parties. This also describes the material that’s subject in the agreement, the rights of the licensor, and what the licensee hopes to obtain from the agreement.

Step 3: Granting of License

This part is where the extension and the license of the copyrights is stated. Specifically write down what kind of rights are being granted, what parts of the creative work are to be used, and the how or the process on which it will be used. For example, in the case of an author getting into a copyright license agreement with a publishing company for his or her book, the following details should be included: 1) Publication type and the materials to be used. If printed, will it be hardbound or softbound? Other publication types can be through digital media channels as CDs, DVD, Website, social media platforms, et cetera;  2) Publication date. The publication date, or the release date, of the book should also be agreed between the publisher and the author; 3) Number of pages and number of book copies to be produced; 4) Market circulation. This refers to where the book will be sold or circulated; 5) and last but not least, the price of the book identified in both retail and wholesale prices. 

Step 4: Credits and Fees

Credit refers to how the licensor will be credited upon the licensee’s use of the creative work. The agreement could specifically state the way that the credit should appear on the work, or it usually comes in the form of “reproduced with permission by (licensor)”. The fees, especially in a book publication, usually comes in the form of royalties. This is the payment given to the licensor by the licensee in exchange for the rights to use and distribute the creative work. Aside from the initial payment given, royalties are usually paid for every sale made. It can be as a commission on per item sold basis, or in the form of an agreed amount over a certain period of time. A detailed calculation of fees, or royalties, should be indicated in the written agreement. Also, there should be an indication in the agreement as well that the licensee should keep an accurate record of all the sales pertaining to the material.

Step 5: Indemnification and Termination

An indemnification clause in an agreement sets out to protect a party from certain liabilities arising from loss or damages that could result from the use of the creative work. An example would be that any of the parties shall indemnify and hold the other party harmless for any damages, losses, claims, penalties, or injuries incurred upon by a third party. If there would be an infringement, for example, that the licensor violated the terms of the agreement, the licensor will pay all the applicable expenses and costs in relation to the claim made by the licensee, which usually comes in the form of the attorney’s fees. Termination refers to events, actions, or circumstances, whether intentional or unintentional, whether expected or unexpected, that will put an end to the agreement. A list of causes should be included, and if it’s an agreed termination, that a 30-day written notice should be given to the other party. Upon the effective date of the termination, the licensee shall halt and cease the use and reproduction of the licensor’s creative work, but shall continue, however, to fulfill existing orders, if any.

Step 6: Signatories

Of course, an agreement is only as good and as effective once it is signed by both parties. Found at the bottom part of the agreement, once dated and signed, both parties are then expected to adhere to the terms found in the agreement, as well as to the applicable laws and regulations to which state or country that the agreement is governed by.


A copyright protects unpublished and published creative works, or original works of authorship. A patent protects inventions and discoveries, things that are not covered by a copyright. Whereas a trademark, protects symbols, words, phrases, or designs registered or established as an identification of a company or a product. Samples of a trademark are brands, logos, and slogans.

Also known as copyright assignment. A transfer of copyright ownership is an intentional conveyance of a transfer of a creative work’s exclusive rights, in whole or in partial, by the copyright owner. It can be done as a whole transfer, meaning that the recipient will be the new and exclusive owner of the creative work, or in parts, meaning that only specified parts of creative work will be transferred.

In order to register a copyright work, the applicant must prepare the following: an application form from the Copyright Office; the corresponding filing fee and charges; and at least one copy of the creative work to be registered. Registration can be done either online, manually visiting the office for submission, or via sending the documents through mail.

Given that copyright protection is considered automatic upon the creation of the material, there are still some benefits when registering it with the Copyright Office. One of the main benefits of registration is that the owner will have a public record to show proof that they are the owner of the creative work, and that they have a public certification to prove. Another benefit is that this will enhance their protection and claim against unauthorized use and distribution.

A person may be good at composing and making creative and original literary works, but oftentimes would need the help of a third party if they wanted their work to be widely acknowledged. This is often the case for book authors, song lyricists, solo scriptwriters, and others who have good materials on their hand, and would avail a producer’s offer or the services of a publication company in order to help them get that fame and recognition, and of course, that financial success. In order for their work to be protected, they needed a copyright license agreement to set and lay out the terms in which they would be given the credit that they deserved for the work they made.

Writing a copyright license agreement shouldn’t be daunting. We have loads of license agreement templates available on our website that are ready for download, especially ones made for a copyright license. It is easy to use and to fill out. So download one now, and start protecting your exclusive license rights as a copyright owner!