Copyright Transfer Agreement

Jump to section, need help with a legal contract, what is a copyright transfer agreement.

A copyright transfer agreement, also known as a copyright assignment agreement , is a legal document that transfers the copyright for a work from one party to another - usually from the copyright owner to another party. These agreements are common for publishers who want to use copyrighted work of an artist. For example, a book publisher wants to use the copyrighted work of an artist for their book cover.

  • Identification of the “assignor” and “assignee”
  • Assignment and acceptance of the work
  • Consideration (what the assignor is receiving from the assignee in exchange for the transfer of the copyright)

Common Sections in Copyright Transfer Agreements

Below is a list of common sections included in Copyright Transfer Agreements. These sections are linked to the below sample agreement for you to explore.

Copyright Transfer Agreement Sample

Reference : Security Exchange Commission - Edgar Database, EX-10.25 33 dex1025.htm COPYRIGHT TRANSFER AGREEMENT , Viewed October 4, 2021, View Source on SEC .

Who Helps With Copyright Transfer Agreements?

Lawyers with backgrounds working on copyright transfer agreements work with clients to help. Do you need help with a copyright transfer agreement?

Post a project  in ContractsCounsel's marketplace to get free bids from lawyers to draft, review, or negotiate copyright transfer agreements. All lawyers are vetted by our team and peer reviewed by our customers for you to explore before hiring.

Meet some of our Copyright Transfer Agreement Lawyers

Faryal A. on ContractsCounsel

Ms. Ayub is an attorney licensed to practice in Texas. Before moving to the US, she has a number of years of experience in contract review, analysis and drafting. Ms. Ayub is available to help you with your legal problems, as well as filling LLC and other business entity formation documents.

Jimmy V. on ContractsCounsel

I’m a semi-retired, long-time US attorney with substantial experience in business and corporate law. I counsel startups and small businesses, help them set up corporations or LLCs across the country and draft a variety of contracts and corporate documents.

Moxie M. on ContractsCounsel

Lindsey has always been deeply invested in the power of knowledge; she was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio before making her way to Miami University for a dual Bachelor's degree. Afterward, Lindsey completed a Juris Doctor at Stetson University with an International Law concentration before earning a Health & Hospital law Certificate from Seton Hall School of Law. After graduating law school, Lindsey began her career as an associate at a Florida-based insurance litigation firm. She eventually transitioned to become a multi-year Rising Star in Employment Law by Super Lawyers as a labor and employment lawyer with Scott Wagner and Associates, supporting clients in Florida, California & Ohio with employment law matters. Her expertise covers counseling on workplace policies/handbooks; investigations into EEO discrimination/retaliation claims; wage disputes & wrongful terminations - equipping employees across multiple states for success in the ever-changing modern workforce landscape. Leveraging extensive knowledge of state/federal regulations gained from handling dozens of cases over many years, Lindsey has established herself as a leader in the field. Lindsey is a seasoned litigator, well-versed in the complexities of employer and employee disputes. She has represented clients on both sides during numerous mediations and provides an informed perspective when advocating for her clients' interests. She sharpened her dispute resolution skills by completing Harvard Law School's Negotiation Mediation course as part of their Executive Education Program as well as a Florida Circuit Civil Certified Mediator - making her qualified to mediate Circuit Civil cases in Florida as well as California and Ohio. Her breadth of knowledge provides valuable insight into the complexities each side faces while navigating their way through conflict mediation situations. With her varied expertise in the world of entertainment industry employment law, Lindsey has become a go-to source for Hollywood professionals, studios, and companies looking to make sure their legal considerations and entertainment contract law knowledge is up to date. From contract negotiations and employment advice to her outstanding knowledge of current regulations, she provides clients with everything they need for success both now and into the future. Lindsey dedicates her time and expertise to advancing the legal community. She proudly serves on the Executive Council for Florida Bar Association Labor and Employment Section, as well as with American Bar's Membership Outreach Committee in a leadership role. Lindsey is also an respected LA Magazine Editorial Board Member while Co-Chairing both LACBA CLE Event Dinner Committees - focusing on labor and employment law developments. Lindsey is passionate about providing accessible legal services to those in need. She serves on the Pro Bono Mediation Panel for the U.S Central District Court of California, volunteers as a mediator with California Lawyers for Arts and acts as Settlement Officer with Los Angeles Superior Court's ResolveLA program - all while donating her time towards resolving disputes through pro bono mediation at Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC). Lindsey is a globetrotter, an outdoor enthusiast, and dedicated sports fan all rolled into one. While splitting time between California, Florida and Ohio she has the best of three world - from hiking trails to family gatherings there's always something interesting on her horizon! Plus with photography as a hobby Lindsey enjoys capturing life’s precious moments so they can be treasured for years to come.

Robert M. on ContractsCounsel

Robert is a sixth-generation Tennessean and part of a long line of Tennessee attorneys: There has been a Marks attorney in Tennessee since 1856. In 1929, Robert’s great-grandfather established an event venue, Shadowbrook, which Robert has worked at his entire life, including managing for 10 years. He knows what business owners are dealing with—especially venue owners—because he has dealt with it. While Robert loves the hospitality industry, he pursued his passion. In 2016, Robert decided to attend law school and continue managing the business. He thrived. He was a founding member of the Nashville School of Law's Legal Aid Society, received the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Law Student for Justice award, and interned with the Tennessee Supreme Court's Access to Justice Commission. Before co-founding Mercury Legal Group, Robert focused on estate planning in solo practice. In this role, he helped clients protect what they had spent a lifetime building. Now he helps his clients build their businesses by providing tailored legal services.

Candace M. on ContractsCounsel

For over 20 years, as an attorney and real estate broker, Candace has used her passion for business and real estate to help her clients succeed as business owners, entrepreneurs Realtors, and real estate investors. She and her team go above and beyond to simplify and solve those issues which trouble her clients. From the simple to the complex, she is ready to help. Her experience includes, Real Estate law, Contracts, Business Formation, Business Operating AGreements and Entrepreneurial counseling.

Alan A. on ContractsCounsel

I have dedicated my professional career and practice to Federal Government Procurement Law. My practice includes experience as an Army JAG who specialized in Government Procurement Law who represented contracting commands and requiring activities both deployed and in the United States and now as a civilian attorney who represents clients in all aspects of Federal Government Procurement Law. My clients are people and firms that are developing technology through the SBIR/STTR programs, OT's, and businesses using Small Business Administration (SBA) contracting programs.

Kendall C. on ContractsCounsel

Kendall is a data privacy attorney by trade, and is an active member of the Bar in Texas and Georgia. In litigation, he handled thousands of cases to final disposition in litigation throughout the United States, Latin America, & Europe. As corporate counsel, he guides companies through the marketing and advertising industry and, by extension, many other industries. Further, Kendall is an adherent to the Ben Hogan school of swing thought and, by natural extension, is a proponent of accurate wedge play through residential neighborhoods. He occasionally aspires to a career in turf management.

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Why copyright transfer is recommended for commercial photography

Topic: Commercial Copyright Transfer Time Investment: 7 Minutes Suggested Product: Commercial contract ,  Commercial license ,  Copyright Transfer document Commercial copyright transfer is greatly common, especially when the resulting photographs are especially specific to brand and/or photographs including people that are prominent in the brand (headshots, influencer shots, etc.)

Now, before we get into this, here are some quick options that are typical in commercial photography rights management:

From my experience as a copyright and rights management attorney for photographers, I have seen many variations on the above outlined arrangements.  Generally speaking, the best solution for rights management is the copyright transfer from photographer to client.

Why, you ask?

Let’s say I get headshots or photos specifically done for my business + a license but NOT copyright transfer, and then the photographs get infringed by a third-party.

I, the client, am then stuck relying   on the photographer to enforce their copyrights (unless we contractually agreed that photographer would legally pursue, but that has its own host of issues.) However, even this contractual duty can be administratively and financially cumbersome because if the photographer is notified of infringement and refuses to pursue infringer for the infringement then I, the client, am stuck pursuing the photographer for breach of contract and risk loss of brand value.

How does copyright transfer work?

It honestly is simple: utilize a copyright transfer document + charge accordingly.

By default, an independently contracted photographer retains the copyright ownership rights in the photographs.

The Copyright Law in the United States grants several exclusive rights are granted to the holder of a copyright:

Copyright is retained by the photographer unless the photographer was under an employment status of the hiring party or an agreement exists to transfer the rights. These rights exist even without registration, although that is recommended by the copyright holder.

In a typical situation, photographers are often hired as independent businesses by the client - therefore, copyright remains with the photographer.  If the client wants to be the one to control the rights of the photographs, a copyright transfer document must be executed.

If you are still fuzzy on copyright law in the US, here are some resources:

What if I don't want to transfer copyright to my client but will agree to pursue infringers?

Alternative: What if my photographer won't transfer copyright, but I want the photographer to agree to pursue infringers?

Remember, we identified above that a  copyright transfer document is the best way for an entity to control their brand and have enforcement if infringed, however, an option exists that allows for photographer to retain the copyrights but contractually agree to pursue infringers on behalf of the client.

What if I didn’t get the photograph rights transferred and the photograph is infringed?

If you are the client, you can seek to encourage the photographer to enforce their rights. This is often super difficult especially if they haven’t taken the steps to register the photograph and/or don’t have the financial capability to do so.

If your face is in the photograph, you can seek to pursue an infringement on the basis of a publicity rights violation, but this is often greatly weaker and less protected. Furthermore, it’s also a state law claim versus copyright (that is federal and, if registered, has a risk of greater damages and attorneys fees to be paid by the infringer).

What if the photographer wants to license to others?

Technically, you can have the copyright transferred to client and then have the client license back to you for sub-licensing. This isn't super common as it tends to defeat the purpose of the copyright transfer, but it is not unheard of.

How do I charge for commercial photography?

We have an article here - but digging into copyright transfer amounts is not an exact science. You have to take into account the loss of potential licensing revenue.

Can I use these photographs in my portfolio if I transfer copyright?

You definitely can, if you get a license back from the client.  It would work like this: Copyright ownership transfer to client and in same document the client can agree to license back for your use in marketing.

Remember our options outlined above:

What if I, a photographer, hire for headshots?

You are the client in that situation! Imagine, you don't contract for the copyright of the photographs to be transferred to you - you can end up in the exact situation outlined in the introduction of this article.

Can I get a summary on what I need for commercial photography?

Sure thing!

Definition: Commercial photography, as we use the term here on TheLawTog®. Technically, any sale of photographs is commercial, but personal portraiture like general, senior, boudoir, wedding, etc. have an end use of personal usage rights for photographs versus commercial rights that are for use in business - such as headshots, marketing shots, etc.

Documents needed: 

Is this only applicable to photographs?

Nope! This is  super common with logos, as well. Consider, if you are the client having a logo created and don't get the rights - the following can happen:

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Copyright Transfer Agreement for Creatives

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This is a  COPYRIGHT TRANSFER AGREEMENT  (also called an "Assignment") for the total and complete transfer of a "Work"-- meaning something a photographer, designer, copywriter, artist, INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR,  or other creator has produced.

This Agreement will give ALL RIGHTS associated with the Work from  the creator and  to the client/ company.

This Agreement DOES allow the creator to use the Work in their portfolio!

Examples of who uses this type of Copyright Transfer Agreement:

As Always,  this Agreement comes with a step-by-step, numbered guide on how to use it.  We keep it simple!

Don't want to transfer all rights to a Photograph, but simply want to be able to use it?  Check out our Copyright License Agreement , or the more specialized Photographer/ Planner License .

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Copyright Assignment (Photographs) FAQ

Table of Contents

Essentially, a Copyright Assignment (Photographs) is an agreement to transfer the owner’s property rights in a piece of intellectual property.  Basically, a copyright is a legal right for the copyright owner to make copies of an original work.  Typically, this can include photographs, books, music, or any other form of creative work.

Generally, for any business or creative endeavor, owning the intellectual property rights to a work is key to ongoing income and survival. Thus, ensuring that the copyright has adequate protection is paramount.

What is in a Copyright Assignment?

Parties participating in the copyright assignment .  In all assignment agreements, the assignor is the party who owns the copyright. Additionally, the assignee is the party who will be transferred the copyright.

Assignment of Works .  Whether they are photographs, literature, or any other form of creative work, the assignor must specify the copyrighted works that will be assigned.

Assignor Representation and Warranties. The assignor must warrant that the assigning works are original works. The assignor must also own the works. Additionally, the works were done independently and not as part of any other employment. Also, the work does not use any other copyrighted work.

Assignee Representation and Warranties. The assignee must warrant that they have the authority to enter the agreement. Also, they must have sufficient funds to purchase the copyright.

Purchase price. The agreed upon purchase price for the copyright transfer.

Scope of the copyright.   This includes scope of use of the copyrighted work as well as any time limitations for the use of the copyright.

When Should You Use a Copyright Assignment (Photographs)?

A copyright assignment is a formal transfer of intellectual property rights.  If you are looking to simply allow another party to use your work, a copyright license is sufficient.

A Copyright Assignment is a formal transfer of intellectual property rights.  Protect yourself, whether you are the assignor or assignee, by using this template from the Zegal template library.

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