Lots of designers, bloggers, and influencers have questions about the structure and format for agreements to license their creative content. This post will provide some basic information that will set the stage. Please remember that while the issues discussed below are important, there are many other considerations, depending on the specific details of the parties in the transaction and the type of content being licensed. Also remember that licensing and assignment are very different things so we are only talking about licensing here.
Scope. You should understand exactly how your content is going to be used. Since the brand or sponsor is likely using the content for a commercial use, the licensing agreement should state that. It should also specify the period of time, number of impressions, etc. that might limit their use of the content. For example, they might have a license to use the content for one specific product for a specific period of time. They may have a license to use the content only on a specific platform (for example, Youtube only). After the specifics of the scope have been met, they no longer have the right to use the content.
Exclusivity. Does the brand or sponsor want to use the content exclusively? This usually depends on the kind of content that you create. If you’re doing product photography for a client, it makes sense to grant them exclusive rights because its their product and there’s not likely a large audience outside of their consumer base. However, if the content is more general, and could be used for another client in the future, you may want to leave room for yourself to license or sell the content in the future. In that case, the rights to use the content would be non-exclusive. Additionally, the rights may be exclusive only for a period of time, after which the license would be terminated or convert to a non-exclusive license. In any case, I usually recommend that you carve out a provision in the license agreement that will allow you to use your content for your creative portfolio to showcase your work for future clients.
Other Considerations. Other licensing options include giving your client first use rights that allow you to resell your image after they use it, or one-time use rights if they only need an image for a particular purpose. You just want to ensure that your content is only used in the way that you agreed to. You may want to include some right to approve the final use of the image if there are any questions about the intended use because you wouldn’t want your name and reputation to be tarnished by the use of your content..
Pricing. This element is complicated and can get pretty tricky. In general, the more rights that you offer in using your content, the more expensive the content license will be. An exclusive license is pricier than a non-exclusive license. A license to use the content for a month is less expensive than using the content for a year. Using the content for multiple purposes and on multiple platforms (video, website, print ad, packaging, etc.) is more expensive than using the photo in a blog post. Eventually, you should get a feel for the commercial value of your work and develop a fee schedule or rate card that can be a starting point for future negotiations.
These are the most important elements to consider. Obviously, there is a lot of detail behind each of these issues but this should get you started on thinking about what you’d like to do.
Disclaimer – Yes, I’m a lawyer, but I’m not your lawyer. All information in this post is provided for educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice for any specific person or specific situation.
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