Licensing Your Blog Content
When you write blogs for your own company or blog, you have the ability to license your work to others. When you license your work, you retain the copyright to it, but you give someone permission to use your work for particular purpose. For example, you may write content that others can repurpose or republish on their websites. If you create original artwork, you may license it to others to use in their projects.
The benefit of licensing is that it allows you to use the same content in multiple ways. This increases your chance of exposure, as well as your ability to make money multiple times from one literary or artistic work.
Your licenses must be specific about how the person who is licensing your work can use it. The licensing agreement should state whether the license is exclusive or non-exclusive. When you grant someone an exclusive license, only that person can use your work in a particular way. If you give someone an exclusive license to use your work, you could be prohibited from using your own work in certain ways. When you give someone a non-exclusive license, you have the ability to license the same work to other people to use in similar ways, and to use it yourself.
Be mindful when you write your licensing agreements that you specify how the other person may use your work, including whether he has the ability to sublicense your work to others, and any limits on where your work may appear. You may not be happy if you give someone permission to publish your content on any website they own if you later learn that one of the sites is a porn site. You also want to specify how long the license will last— whether the person can use your work forever or only for a limited amount of time. You should also be clear about the payment structure.
It may seem strange that you can create a literary, artistic, or audiovisual work and not be able to use it, but that’s how it is sometimes. If you sell your copyright to someone or you create a work made for hire, you can’t use your own work without the risk of being accused of copyright infringement. If you sell your copyright to someone else and you later regret the decision, you can ask to buy it back from whoever owns it. When you create work made for hire, particularly if you’re a freelancer, make sure your contract includes a license for you to use your work in your portfolio so you can use it as a work sample to obtain other work. With this license, the other person or company retains ownership of the copyright, but you have permission to use the work in a limited way.
Are You an Employee or an Independent Contractor?
If a court has to decide who owns the copyright to a work, it may start by examining whether you were an employee or an independent contractor when you created the work in question. Whether you are an employee or an independent contractor may have a significant impact on who owns the copyright to your work. The court will consider how much control the person or company that hired you had over your work. It may examine many factors in deciding whether you were an employee or an independent contractor including:
- The skill level required to create the work,
- Who provided the tools and equipment to create the work,
- Where you performed your work,
- Whether the person who hired you could assign you other tasks,
- Whether you worked on an ongoing or on a project basis,
- Whether the person who hired you could control the days and hours you worked,
- Whether you were paid hourly, weekly, or on a project basis,
- Whether the person who hired you controlled your ability to hire assistants,
- Whether the company that hired you does the work that you were hired to perform as part of its business,
- Whether you received employee benefits, and
- How the company classified you in terms of taxes.
The court will consider the circumstances surrounding your employment, not just what you consider yourself to be or what the person who hired you calls you.