Can a Licensor Sue a Licensee for Copyright Infringement?
There are times when content creators such as videographers or photographers license out their works. Licensing material is a good income stream for creative professionals, especially since a licensing agreement allows them to license their work to various people and platforms of their choosing. But what happens if there is an alleged copyright infringement even with the licensing agreement in place? How can the licensing agreement protect the creators?
What is a Licensing Agreement?
A licensing agreement is a contract between the copyright owner, the content creator, and another who wants to use the copyrighted material. For example, a photographer can enter into a licensing agreement with an online stock photo company. A written agreement allows the photo company to have some rights over the pictures, and depending on the agreement; it can distribute the photos to other users. In turn, the photographer receives compensation.
Most licensing agreements fall into one of two categories; commercial and non-commercial. Typically, non-commercial licensing agreements charge a flat rate to the licensee. For commercial usage, agreements sometimes include a percentage of the licensee’s income derived from the licensor’s work.
How Can a Licensing Agreement Protect Creative Professionals?
Licensing your photos or videos does not mean you are waiving your rights to them. The licensing agreement aims to protect your copyrights over your creative works. It sets the terms and limits of the rights you bestow to another person. Whether for non-commercial or commercial use, license agreements allow both parties to stipulate to whatever terms and conditions of payment they agree upon.
Do Licensing Agreements cover copyright Infringement?
As a general rule, any use by the licensee that is not covered by the licensing agreement constitutes copyright infringement.
For example, a photographer licenses another person to use his photograph as a print for a restaurant wall. Under the agreement, the licensee may print the photo to hang on the restaurant wall, and the photographer charges a flat fee for this.
If the licensee prints small postcards using the same photograph and sells them for profit, it constitutes a breach of the agreement and is no longer covered anymore by licensing terms. It is now a case of copyright infringement.
Here is another example. A video is licensed under a commercial licensing agreement. The licensee agrees to pay the licensor 50% of whatever profit he may derive from the video, provided that he always credits the video back to the original maker. The licensee then proceeds to syndicate the video across the Internet but fails to credit the original videographer. This act also constitutes copyright infringement because it falls outside the original licensing agreement.
In both cases, the infringement happens because the licensee fails to honor the contents of the agreement. This is how a licensing agreement protects creators. It ensures that the licensee follows the terms and conditions for usage of their works. If they go beyond the accepted usage, a breach occurs, and the licensor can claim infringement.
What to do When Someone Violates Your Licensing Agreement
If you have a valid licensing agreement and realize that the licensee is using your work in a way that violates its terms, tell that party right away.
Then call our experienced copyright infringement lawyers to ensure the infringement stops and find out what legal remedies are available. We will review your agreement’s terms and determine your options to collect all compensation the licensee owes.
Contact Our Dedicated Copyright Lawyers Today to Protect Your Rights Over Your Pictures
It is wise to consult our copyright infringement lawyers before entering into any licensing agreement. Seeking professional guidance can help ensure the terms of your agreement reflect your true intent.
If you suspect someone is violating your agreement, call the Liebowitz Law Firm, LLP, right away so we can put a stop to the copyright infringement. Our copyright lawyers can help you enforce your rights over your licensing agreements and ensure that your rights are protected.
Contact our copyright infringement lawyers for a free case evaluation today at 800-778-1660 or 516-233-2660.