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How to Purchase Copyright?

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Lokesh Pal

January 12, 2024

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How to Purchase Copyright?

Do you know how to purchase copyright for your content?

With an abundance of creativity and ideas floating around, it’s critical that we understand how to legally use, share, and yes, even purchase copyrighted material.

The process of buying copyright might seem overwhelming, filled with legal jargon and nuanced regulations. But fret not.


In our forthcoming series titled “How to Purchase Copyright”, we’ll be taking you step-by-step through the complex maze that is law.

We’ll explore what copyright is, the types of materials that can be copyrighted, and most importantly, the process of purchasing these rights.

So, let’s embark on this enlightening journey together, and unravel the intricacies of purchasing copyright!

Where to Buy Copyrights?

When it comes to purchasing copyrights, you’re not so much buying from a physical marketplace, like a bookstore or a supermarket, but rather entering into legal agreements with the current copyright holders.

However, there are some online platforms and steps to consider when acquiring copyrights.

1. Directly from the holder: This is the most straightforward way. If you know who the holder is, you can approach them directly and negotiate the purchase of the copyright.

This usually involves signing an assignment agreement where the holder transfers their rights to you.

Keep in mind, professional legal advice is beneficial when drafting such agreements to ensure all legal aspects are appropriately covered.

2. Copyright Clearance Center: The Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) is an organisation that facilitates the licensing, usage, and content sharing of copyrighted materials.

While it doesn’t directly sell copyrights, it is an excellent place to get permissions and licenses to use copyrighted works.

3. Intellectual Property Brokers: There are companies and individuals that act as intermediaries between holders and those who want to buy.

These brokers can help navigate the complex world of copyright purchases, ensuring you follow all legal procedures.

4. Online Marketplaces: Websites like Getty Images for copyrighted photographs, or music licensing platforms like BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC for music rights are places where you can purchase the license to use material.

5. Estate Sales and Auctions: Sometimes, the copyrights of deceased artists or creators are sold in estate sales or auctions. It’s rarer, but it can happen.

Remember, always seek legal advice when dealing with purchases. Every country has its unique laws, and violating them can lead to serious legal consequences.

Exclusive Rights of Copyright Owners

Copyright laws grant exclusive rights to the creators of original works, allowing them control over the use of their creative property.

Here are the primary exclusive rights owners possess under U.S. law (Title 17 of the United States Code):

1. Reproduction Right: This is the right to reproduce or copy the copyrighted work. No one else can create copies of the work without the holder’s permission.

2. Distribution Right: This grants the owner the right to distribute copies of the work by sale, rental, lease, or lending.

3. Right to Create Derivative Works: Owners have the exclusive right to create derivative works based on the original copyrighted work.

Derivative works include translations, adaptations, sequels, and transformations of the original work.

4. Public Performance Right: This is the right to recite, play, dance, act, or show the work at public places, or to transmit it to the public.

In the case of sound recordings, this right encompasses the right to perform the work publicly through digital audio transmission.

5. Public Display Right: This allows the owner to display the copyrighted work publicly.

This right is applicable to literary, musical, dramatic, choreographic works, pantomimes, pictures, graphics, sculptures, films, and other visual works.

6. Moral Rights: While not extensive as in some other countries, the U.S. law provides certain moral rights for works of visual art, granting the creator the right to claim authorship and to prevent any intentional distortion, mutilation, or modification of the work that could harm the artist’s reputation.

7. Digital Transmission Right: In the case of sound recordings, the owner has the exclusive right to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.

How to Purchase Copyright?

Obtaining copyright permissions might seem like a daunting task, but it’s essential to avoid infringement. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to seek copyright permissions:

Identify the Owner

For books, this could be the author or the publishing company. For music, it could be the artist, record company, or a music licensing agency.

Determine if Permission is Needed

If your intended use of the work falls under “fair use” or any other legal exception, you may not need to obtain permission.

However, “fair use” can be a complex concept, and it’s often safer to get permission if you’re unsure.

Draft a Permission Request


A detailed description of the copyrighted work you wish to use
An explanation of how, where, and why you will use it
If applicable, the duration and geographical location of the use
Any other pertinent details

Send the Request

You can send the request via mail or email. Make sure to keep a copy of all communications for your records.

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Negotiate and Sign a License Agreement

The owner might grant you permission, possibly for a fee, through a license agreement.

This document will specify the terms of use, including where and how you can use the work, for how long, and any associated costs.

Both parties should sign this agreement. It’s advisable to consult with a legal professional to ensure you understand all terms.

Keep a Record

Once you’ve obtained permission, keep a copy of the agreement.

Copyright Notice for the Infringement

A notice for infringement, often referred to as a Cease and Desist letter, is a document sent to an individual or business to stop purportedly illegal activity (“cease”) and to refrain from restarting it in the future (“desist”).

The letter may warn that if the recipient does not discontinue specified conduct, or take certain actions by deadlines set in the letter, they may be sued.

Here’s a general structure for an infringement notice:

Identifying Information: Include your name, contact information, and the date at the top of the letter.

Recipient’s Information: Identify the person or company who is infringing on your copyright.

Infringement Details: The information could include what the work is, where it was originally published, and how it is being improperly used by the recipient.

Demand for Cease and Desist: Clearly state that you demand the recipient to cease and desist the infringing activity.

Also, if you want them to remove the infringing material from circulation, specify this.


Deadline: Give the recipient a deadline to respond and comply with your demands.

Disclaimer: Include a statement that the letter is not an exhaustive statement of rights, remedies, claims, or defenses, all of which are expressly reserved.

Signature: End the letter with your signature and printed name.

How to Buy Copyrights in India?

In India, law is governed by the Copyright Act of 1957.

While the copyright for a work generally belongs to its creator, it can be sold or transferred to someone else. Here is a general process for buying copyrights in India:

Identify the Copyright Owner

This could be the author, artist, or the current holder if the rights have been previously sold or transferred.

Negotiate the Terms

This will typically involve discussions around the price and scope of the rights being transferred.

Are you buying the rights to the work entirely, or just for specific uses or in certain regions?

Draft an Agreement

After the terms have been negotiated, they need to be formalised in an assignment agreement.

This legal document specifies the rights being transferred, the agreed price, the duration and territorial extent of the assignment, and any rights the original owner may retain.

Register the Agreement

Once the agreement has been signed, it’s a good idea to register it with the Copyright Office in India to have official record of the transaction.

This isn’t mandatory, but it can provide additional legal protection.

Make Payment

Once the agreement is signed and registered, the final step is to make the agreed payment to the current owner.

Conclusion

In conclusion, purchasing copyright is a nuanced process that involves identifying the owner, negotiating terms, and formalising the agreement through a legally binding document.

This process is crucial in ensuring that you gain the legal right to use, distribute, and benefit from a creative work without infringing upon the original creator’s rights.

Whether you’re looking to acquire a piece of music, a novel, a photograph, or any other copyrighted material, understanding the steps involved will empower you to navigate the terrain with confidence and respect for intellectual property laws.

Remember, each country has its unique laws, and professional legal advice is invaluable in these transactions.

As the world continues to evolve in the digital age, copyright will undoubtedly remain a critical aspect of creative endeavours and commerce.

The more we understand this landscape, the better equipped we are to foster creativity, innovation, and fair practice.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is copyright?

Copyright is a form of legal protection given to authors of original works such as literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual creations.

How do I purchase copyright for a work?

Purchasing copyright involves identifying the current owner, negotiating terms, drafting a assignment agreement, and making payment.

Consultation with a legal professional is highly recommended to ensure the agreement covers all necessary points.

Can I buy copyright to any work I want?

It’s possible to buy copyright for a work if the current holder is willing to sell it.

How long does copyright last?

The duration of protection varies depending on the type of work and where it was created.

For works made for hire, anonymous, or pseudonymous works, the copyright lasts 95 years from the year of first publication or 120 years from the year of creation, whichever is shorter.
 

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