Find the right lawyer now

Obtaining a Copyright License

Find a Local Intellectual Property Lawyer near You

What Is a License?

A license is something that gives you a legal right to do or use something in which another person has a property interest. In the case of a copyrighted work, a license allows you to use that material in certain ways. For example, a license may allow you to reproduce and distribute copyrighted material. In order to use copyrighted material, you must obtain a license from the owner of the copyright, otherwise you could be sued.

How Do I Determine If the Work Is Copyrighted?

There are many ways to determine if something is copyrighted. You can:

  • Examine the work itself to see if there is a copyright notice on it
  • Search through the records of the Copyright Office
  • Have the Copyright Office perform a search for you

These are just a few of the many possible ways to determine if a work is copyrighted.

The next step in obtaining a license is to obtain the permission of the owner to use the material. The method for obtaining permission can vary with the type of work. Often, there are licensing organizations that either hold the copyrights or represent the copyright holders. You must contact these organizations to obtain a license for works they cover. If you know who the copyright owner is, you can contact him or her directly.

Licensing Agreements

Permission to use a copyrighted work is articulated through a Licensing Agreement. This agreement will include:

  • The scope of the license (what you can use the copyright for)
  • Terms of compensation
  • Length of the agreement
  • Any other rights or limitations you have

Not all license agreements include the same provisions, and each agreement can be easily tailored to suit your needs.

Do I Need a Lawyer to License a Copyright?

Creating a licensing agreement can be complex and difficult. An experienced intellectual property lawyer can help you draft a licensing agreement. An IP attorney can also represent you in court if you have a copyright dispute.

Photo of page author Adam Vukovic

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 01-08-2015 03:38 PM PST

Law Library Disclaimer
  • No fee to present your case
  • Choose from lawyers in your area
  • A 100% confidential service
What is LegalMatch?

We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.