As with patents, making your copyrighted work profitable often involves the licensing and/or transferring of the copyright. The need for copyright licensing derives from the fact that many authors and creators of copyrighted works do not have the means on their own to market and distribute their work to the public in a profitable manner. As such, the work is often licensed or transferred to a distributor or other entity. Common examples include an author licensing his book to a publisher or a programmer transferring source code to a company.
Licensing involves granting a licensee certain rights under a copyright pursuant to certain terms and conditions in exchange for compensation in the form of royalties. Most often licenses involve granting rights to reproduce and sell the copyrighted work. A license can grant exclusive or nonexclusive rights; however, an exclusive license constitutes a transference of the copyright as described herein below. It should be noted that, if a conflict arises between a nonexclusive license and a transfer of ownership, the nonexclusive license prevails over the transference provided that the license was taken before the execution of the transfer or was taken in good faith before the transference was recorded and without notice of said transfer.
In the language of the US Code, "a transfer of copyright ownership is an assignment, mortgage, exclusive license, or any other conveyance, alienation, or hypothecation of a copyright or of any exclusive rights comprised in a copyright, whether or not it is limited in time or place of effect." Transfers of ownership in a copyright are not valid unless a written agreement is signed by the owner of the copyright. Further, because of the various laws governing copyright ownership, copyright transfers, more so than other intellectual property transfers, require careful and strategic construction with particular language to protect the rights of all parties.
Due to the variety of factors influencing and affecting ownership of copyrights, it is crucial to have a knowledgeable attorney, familiar with the ins and outs of copyright law to prepare any licensing or transfer agreements for your copyright. The attorneys of the Wilson Law Group will apply their years of experience and knowledge of intellectual property matters to give you the strong, well constructed agreements you need.
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