Area of Law: Intellectual Property
Answer # 320
Assigning or licensing a CopyrightRegion: Ontario Answer # 320
The process of assigning or licensing a copyright is usually very complicated. To make sure that your rights are protected, you should contact a lawyer to advise you about assigning or licensing your copyright. You should also have your lawyer review the agreement before you sign it. Assigning and licensing are two different ways that authors or creators can profit from their copyrights.
An assignment is the transfer of rights of ownership in your copyright and may be for the whole term of the copyright or for a certain part of it. Assignments must be made in writing. You should register any change in the ownership of your copyright with the Copyright Office of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO). This will protect your legal rights and you will be able to bring a lawsuit against anyone who uses the copyright without your permission.
Licensing gives someone other than the owner a temporary right or permission to use the work protected by copyright while the owner maintains ownership of the copyright. In most cases, the owner of a copyright will ask for a fee, or royalty, or other compensation for granting someone a licence to use the copyright. If you are involved in a licensing arrangement, you should make sure, among other things, that the agreement is in writing and that it includes the time limits of the licence and the amount of fee to be paid. Licences should also be registered with the Copyright Office.
To register an assignment or a licence, you must file the original agreement or a certified copy of the agreement along with the required fee to the Copyright Office. Requests may be submitted by mail or online.
If your request to register an assignment or licence is missing any information, the Copyright Office will issue a notice within one week of your request being filed. If the request is complete and the fee submitted, a Certificate of Registration will be sent in approximately two weeks.
The assignment or licence is effective once the agreement is made, and the assignee or licensee can begin using the copyright immediately.
For more information and current fees, refer to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.
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