Assignment of copyright v. License Agreement
If suppose I run a website, and I take the services of various authors to write articles for my website, now these authors want to sign a 1 or 2 page contract with me that I will acknowledge all their articles by by providing authorship credits to them on my website. in this case I am a bit confused if the required contract should be assignment of copyright (assignment agreement) or license agreement ? However I feel that an assignment agreement will be more suitable as I want a simpler contract. Can their be any contract simpler than assignment agreement ( as I have read on ipleaders blog that assignment agreement requires term of assigning copyright and territorial extent, which is something I don't intend to include in my contract) ?
The Copyright Act, 1957 provides for cases where the author is not the first owner of the copyright. Section 17(a) provides that any work including literary work made by an author during the course of his employment in a periodical shall not be the first owner of the Copyright, whereas the proprietor of such periodical shall have the ownership rights of such work in absence of any agreement to the contrary. Hence acknowledging their authorship in your website does not make them the owner of the copyright of the article unless you have agreed to the same by way of an agreement. Thus an assignment agreement or license agreement is not required. However, if you have entered into a contract with the authors wherein they are the first owners of Copyright, then you may enter into an assignment agreement or license agreement. As you already know, the assignment agreement has certain requirements which have been provided under Section 18-21 of the Act, these include:
a) Identity of the work
b) The rights assigned and the duration and territorial extent of such assignment.
c) Amount of royalty payable, if any to the author or his legal heir during the term of the assignment.
d) The assignment agreement must be made in writing and must be duly signed.
In case of a license agreement the owner of the work may grant a person the license to use his work. The requirements of this has been provided under Section 30 of the Act and these are as follows:
a) Identification of the work.
b) The rights licensed.
c) Duration of license.
d) Territorial extent of license.
e) Amount of royalty payable.
f) The term regarding revision, extension and termination.
g) The agreement must in writing and must be duly signed.
Thus you must ensure these basic requirements of the respective agreements are adhered to if you intend to enter into any of the above mentioned agreements.