Copyright License Agreement

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What is

Copyright License Agreement

A copyright is a right granted to the author(s) or creator(s) of artistic work(s) or a work having a unique level of creativity to exercise ownership right over such works. Copyright under the Copyright Act, 1957 means the exclusive right to do or authorize the doing of certain actions in respect of a work or any substantial part.  Further, a license is a permission granted to the holder of the license to use the property so licensed in accordance with conditions attached to the license.

A copyright license agreement is basically a license granted by the holder of copyright to a person to use work) to a limited extent or within a set scope. 


1. What is the importance of a copyright license agreement?

Section 30 of the Copyright Act 1957 states that the owner of a copyright in any work, either existing or future, may grant any interest in the copyrighted work only by granting a license in writing. These licenses usually take the form of a copyright license agreement, which ensures the protection of the copyright from infringement by unwarranted use and dictates the scope within which the copyrighted property may be used.

2. What should a copyright license agreement contain?

A copyright license agreement should contain, inter alia, the following terms:

  • The duration of the license
  • The license fees
  • The scope of use of the property
  • The jurisdiction or area for which the license is granted
  • Assignability of the License
  • Whether the license is granted on an exclusive or non-exclusive basis

3. What if the copyright license agreement does not mention the term or jurisdiction for which the license is valid? 

Under Section 19(5) of the Copyright Act 1957, where the license does not mention the term for which the license is granted it shall be deemed to be granted for a period of 5 years and where the jurisdiction is not mentioned, the right under the license will be deemed to be granted for the whole of India.

4. What is the consequence of using copyright property without a copyright license agreement? 

Use of copyright property without entering into a copyright license agreement might be construed as an infringement of the copyright. Under section 63 of the Copyright Act 1957, a person infringing the copyright granted to the creator shall be liable to be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months, but which may extend to three years and with a fine which shall not be less than fifty thousand rupees, but which may extend to two lakh rupees.