Assigning and Licensing

Copyright owners may assign or license the rights to their work to others.

Assignment of copyright and licences can include a number of limitations and conditions. These can include limitations on the type of use that can be made of the work, the period of time for which a licence applies and requirements for payment. Whether you are granting or getting a licence (clearance), it is always a good idea to record the details of the licence in writing. It is also a good idea to date the written record of the licence, and have it signed by both the licensor and licensee.

Licence Terms

The document recording a licence would usually include the following:

  • who the rightsholder is and your details, including relevant names and contact details — use letterhead if appropriate;
  • precisely identify the material to be copied, including which part or parts of the work you want to copy, page numbers, chapter titles, or any artworks included. This avoids confusion later, and allows the rightsholder to quickly identify the work, especially if they control a lot of material (such as a publisher);
  • how the material is going to be used, including information such as number of copies made, who they will be distributed to, where they will be distributed (for example, to staff in overseas offices) and whether the work will be distributed free of charge or for profit;
  • how long the permission lasts (eg, is it a one-off copy or will the material continue to be copied for a set period of time?);
  • will copying be paid for? And if so how and when will the charges be calculated?
  • will the rightsholder be acknowledged as the author or publisher in any way on your copies?
  • a warranty (which is a legal guarantee or legally binding promise) that the person granting permission does in fact control the copying rights in the work and that the work does not infringe any existing copyright.

This information is for guidance only. It is not legal advice.

related links


The Australian Copyright Council publishes information sheets (such as ‘Assigning and licensing rights’, ‘Fees and royalties for the use of copyright material’, and ‘Permission: how to get it?’) and detailed guides, offers a legal advice service and runs an annual training program.


28 August 2015

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