The 10 Key Points That Must Be In Every Licensing Agreement

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The 10 Key Points That Must Be In Every Licensing Agreement
by Lance Klass (see complete article on his blog ...)

Art licensing contracts come all sizes, shapes, formats and wording. Some have lots of fancy legal terms, while others may be poorly written or just too short to cover everything that should be covered in order to protect you and your rights.

Here's a checklist of 10 essential points that must be covered in each and every licensing agreement. There's more, of course, but these 10 points are the basics, so be sure to look for them in every contract you're asked to sign:

1) The names of the specific works of art you're licensing.
This is important because it limits the contract to specific images, thereby making certain that there's no implicit claim by the licensee that the contract covers all your art, or more than it says it does in black and white.

2) The specific types of products that the art will be reproduced on.
This is another way to limit the reproduction rights of the license. If the licensee wants to expand its use of your art onto other products, they'll need to come back to you for written permission to do so.

3) The producer's or publisher's written agreement to put your copyright notice on every product sold and on every advertisement or brochure for any such product which bears your art.
While it may not be possible to put a long copyright notice in tiny places, the more places your name appears as the artist who created the artwork used on the product, the more notice you're giving to potential violators of your copyrights not to copy your work. A clear copyright notice also helps build your name as a brand, and that's very important.

4) The countries in which the products will be sold.
Some companies will ask for worldwide rights when they only distribute their products in the United States. Why not be specific? After all, another company might come along that wants to license the same art on similar products in Europe or Asia. This is generally a minor point if you're just starting out, but once you develop your brand it will gain in importance.

5) A period of time (nine months or a year) during which time the company must bring to market (produce and sell) products with your art, or else give up their right to use your art.
Occasionally a company will sit on artwork for a long time without ever using it on product. You certainly don't gain anything by having that happen, and it means any income from the license will be put off to some unknown future date. Plus the company is tying up your artwork and stopping you from licensing it in the same field somewhere else. A reasonable period of time for them to use your art makes a whole lot of sense.

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