Collective Licensing Agencies
Collective licensing agencies are organizations meant to centralize copyright ownership information for their respective industries. These centers can expedite your search substantially, either by putting you directly in touch with a copyright owner or by negotiating the copyright usage itself. Many of these organizations can instantly grant permission online. This will eliminate a need to identify, locate, and contact the creator entirely. For that reason, contacting the appropriate collective licensing centers may be the best way to start your search. However, most of these agencies do charge a fee for their services.
Select a type of work below to view information on licensing agencies for that industry.
- Works in Print
- Online Works
- Musical Works: Performance Rights
- Musical Works: Mechanical Rights
- Dramatic Works
- Pictoral, Graphic, and Sculptural Works
- Motion Pictures and other Audio-Visual Works
- Syndicated Comics, Cartoons, and Editorials
- Religious Works
Works in Print
Most online sources have contact information. Directly contacting the owner or administrator of the site is usually your best starting point. However, if this information is not helpful, try these agencies.
Musical Works: Performance Rights
Performance rights are all uses associated with public performance of copyrighted music, everything from concert performances to playing an artist’s music on overhead speakers in a retail space. Together, these three licensing agencies encompass the vast majority of published American music.
Musical Works: Mechanical Rights
Mechanical Rights are those associated with reproducing derivatives of copyrighted work, such as recording a "cover" of another artist’s song. Other examples would be reproducing the work as part of a collection album or as a ringtone. Once a composition has been commercially recorded, anyone may obtain a compulsory mechanical license pursuant to §115 of the United States Copyright Act. The royalty fee for using the material is set by law, and is known as the "statutory rate."
Dramatic works may not be publicly performed without permission, either in their entirety or in smaller portions, such as excerpts, acts, scenes, monologues, etc. The rights needed to publicly perform a dramatic work that combines a musical work together with staging, dialogue, costuming, special lighting, choreography, etc. are referred to as grand performing rights. Grand performing rights are typically obtained from the creator of the work or their publisher.
The rights to publicly perform a single piece of music from a musical play in a non-dramatic fashion are often referred to as small performing rights. Small performing rights are typically obtained from organizations such as ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. To qualify as a non-dramatic performance, a piece of music taken from a musical play may not make use of any form of staging, choreography, etc., even if the use of any of these elements is not intended to represent any part of the original musical play. For example, creating your own dance steps to a piece of music from a musical play disqualifies the use as a non-dramatic use and permission for the grand performing rights must be sought.
Pictorial, Graphic, and Sculptural Works
Many organizations license the use of still images. Unfortunately, there is not a real collective agency for this industry. Instead, contact the publisher of the picture, or in the alternative, seek out a royalty-free organization that specializes in the dissemination of free stock photography.
Motion Pictures and other Audio-Visual Works
Start your search with the Internet Movie Database to identify who owns the film (listed under the "Company Credits"). Some of the licensing agencies are:
Permission must be secured to reproduce, distribute, perform, display, or make derivative works of software. Nearly all software publishers may be contacted through their homepage on the Internet.
Syndicated Comics, Cartoons, and Editorials
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