is any right that is given to an individual, either by authorship or
inheritance, to use, reproduce, sell, license, and transfer a work. The work
can be in any tangible medium that conveys an idea, such as a motion picture,
painting, or musical piece. Just because a person transfers ownership of an
object does not give him or her the right to claim copyright ownership of it.
This distinguishes copyright ownership from object ownership. Only a copyright
owner (usually the author of the work) is allowed to transfer ownership of the
copyright to another entity or license a copyright for temporary use by another
A copyright transfer occurs when an owner of
a copyright gives all the exclusive rights that come with copyright ownership
to another person or entity. Some copyright transfers come with clauses, in
which only a select amount of rights are given to the new copyright owner.
A transfer of copyright ownership is not valid
until an instrument of conveyance or a note of the transfer is created. It must
be in writing and signed by the owner of the rights or an authorized agent of
the owner. Although a certificate of acknowledgment is not required during a
transfer of rights, it is evidence that the execution of the transfer took
place. Within the United States, the certificate must be issued by someone
qualified to do so. If the transfer is done in a foreign country, the
certificate is to be issued by a diplomatic officer of the United States.
Any transfer of copyright ownership or any other
document pertaining to copyright may be documented by the if the
document has the signature of the person who executed it. The Copyright Office
will then review the document of transfer and return it with a certificate of
record. If there are two conflicting transfers, only the one that was executed
first is valid. If a copyright is licensed to another company, it overrides
some provisions of a transfer document.
The word “license” means to give
permission. When a copyright licensing is initiated by an owner of a work, he
or she is giving copyright permission to another entity and thereby allowing
him or her to use the work for his or her own means. Under intellectual
property laws, the licensee is freed from any infringement charges that may be
brought upon by the licensor.
Usually, the copyright permission comes with
several provisions pertaining to a term, territory and renewal. There are other
possible limitations as well. A term refers to the length of time in which the
copyright licensing is valid. If the value of the copyright rises after the
term is over, the licensor then benefits from this. This also ensures that the
licensor maintains power over the licensee. “Territory” refers to
which regions of the world the licensee may use the copyright. For example,
some licenses may be limited for use only in China and the licensee cannot
legally use the license in Japan.