Home > law > Licensing Works (publish time) vs. Granting Rights (re-use time)

Licensing Works (publish time) vs. Granting Rights (re-use time)

January 17, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

I see two ways (they can even be combined so that both methods are used) to allowing use or granting rights to a copyrighted work. Those two being licensing the work with a copyright license when the work is published, and/or opting for “All rights reserved.” and granting rights on a case by case basis when contacted.

Let’s say an organisation uses the latter method for licensing a work. If you were an individual who wanted to use say a small portion for non-commercial purposes then that organisation may for instance grant you those usage rights for free. But if you were a commercial company who wanted to use the work say as part of a commercial feature film the organisation may for instance charge a fee for the usage rights. This is the approach that anyone who wanted to use a copyrighted work which does not have a license would need to take (or if the license does not meet their needs).

I oppose this approach for several reasons,

  • What if the original copyright was vested in a company that goes out of business. The work becomes an orphan work. (I’m not exactly sure what provisions in the laws allow for this though) A license allows these decisions that the organisation once made to continue to be made.
  • It leaves all discrimination transparent to the public and hence more reachable to the Anti-Discrimination Act. For example the latter effective allows an organisation to grant rights to say a girls school to exhibit a film to its students for free but may demand a similar boys school to pay. This kind of discrimination would be difficult to notice. However with the former approach of a license at creation time it is clear from the license what can and cannot be done and by who.

Sure I can see why a company, organisation or individual would want to do it, because it gives them more control over how their work is used, and the latter method is probably better suited where the copyright owner would charge money for any use. I personally haven’t used the latter approach, though I do favour the former more.

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