Copyright law can offer concrete protection to the creative expression of a person, and offer a great asset to a business in terms of its intellectual property. Copyrighted works can provide revenue for a small business in many ways, especially through the use of licenses.
A grant of copyright protection allows the copyright holder to possess and exercise several rights under the law. These rights may include the right to create reproductions, right of first publication, rights to produce derivative works, and rights to display the work, among other rights. A small business that holds the copyright to a creative work can get revenue from licensing some of the rights that a copyright provides.
A small business owner can grant another person or business, known as a licensee, permission to exercise any of the rights listed above to any degree it decides is in the business’ best interest. For example, a business can grant a licensee an exclusive license to reproduce copyrighted work on merchandize. This exclusive right would mean that the small business owner’s exercise of the licensed rights would be limited, as would his or her ability to license them to other licensees, because of the exclusive nature of the license. However, if the business contracts with a licensee through a non-exclusive license, the business can contract with other licensees for the same rights granted to the non-exclusive licensee.
One of the most important aspects of copyright licensing is making sure that the licensing agreement is clear as to the terms of the license. This would include limitations of the time limit of the license if any, what the license allows the licensee to do, and if there are any limitations to the licensee sublicensing without authorization.
Licenses can be granted through set agreements between the parties, or implied. Implied licenses may arise through the operation of law. For example, if a small business owner creates a work and delivers it to a customer, but there is no contract between the parties, there may be an implied non-exclusive license allowing the customer the right to use the copyrighted work without express permission from the small business owner, at least in the manner initially envisioned between the parties. A small business owner should never do business without a solid, well drafted contract. Doing so leaves the definition of key terms and what the parties intended to courts; this could prove detrimental to the business.
There are some cases where people may use a copyrighted work in a limited way without a license or other specific permission from a copyright holder. Through the doctrine of fair use, a person can use aspects of a copyrighted work to create another work if certain conditions are met. A copyright owner who believes another person’s use goes beyond fair use can sue to enforce the copyright.
Contact A North Miami Small Business Attorney
If you are a small business owner considering protection for the intellectual property owned or to be developed by your company, you need an experienced small business attorney to guide you in the process. Contact an experienced North Miami business law attorney at the Charlip Law Group L.C. for a consultation today.