Individuals often use the terms “Copyright Free” and “Royalty Free” interchangeably. However, the terms don’t have identical terms because they cover two separate concepts. The average person won’t ever experience the differences between these terms. Those that utilize works of art or music for their projects can run into these two concepts, though. Either way, an individual should know these differences in order to protect themselves from the consequences associated with copyright- and royalty-free.

Copyright Free

What is a copyright?

First and foremost, a person needs to understand what a copyright is today. Each country handles copyrights differently, but a general definition does cover most laws. Copyrights provide individuals with intellectual property rights over the things they’ve created. Typically, this applies to artistic works, products, and more. Such intellectual property rights give a person an exclusive window of time to utilize their creation for monetary gain. Nobody can copy their exact work of art or product without facing legal consequences.

What is a royalty?

On the other hand. a royalty is a payment made to the copyright holder every time a copyrighted material is used. The copyright holder can license its works or products to another entity, charging a royalty for its use. Royalties are negotiated by the copyright holder, but an agreement doesn’t give the secondary user rights to the copyright itself. Under most agreements, individuals may use the things they’ve paid a royalty for without making any modifications or claiming ownership over the item in question.

Taking a Look at Copyright Free

With this things in mind, copyright free pertains to anything that was copyrighted but no longer holds that designation. Copyrights do expire after a given time, which varies from country to country. The type of work involved will affect the exclusivity period and expiration of that period, too. Also, a copyright owner can negotiate a deal to provide individuals or businesses with a full or partial copyright for their works. Those entities can then utilize those artistic works or other products without fear of repercussions.

Taking a Look at Royalty Free

When it comes to royalty free content or products, the situation is different from copyright free. The owner of a property licenses it to a licensee that wants to use said property. The two sides can negotiate a deal involving a single payment or other terms. After that deal has been made, that particular property becomes royalty free for the licensee. They are not required to make future payments in order to use a given property for their own purposes. Non-licensees cannot use the property in question without getting a license themselves.

Royalty free agreements often come with various stipulations for licensees, though. For instance, most licensors won’t allow licensees to modify the intellectual property in question. They’re often only allowed to use the property under certain circumstances, such as for advertisements or certain productions. Any breach of contract can result in a revocation of the licence, and the royalty free agreement becomes null and void. Royalty free agreements are often limited in scope as far as the licensees are concerned.

More Information On Copyright Free Properties

Royalty free agreements don’t result in the copyright transferring over to licensees. In reality, the licensor retains their copyright over that particular property. Copyright free properties that have entered the public domain have no protection from previous copyright holders. Nobody can sue another person for copying a product or artistic work that has had its copyright expired. After these properties enter the public domain, they’re considered free for any and all to use for their own wishes. Such items can even be modified or sold.

The same thing applies in a more limited sense for mutual agreements. If the current copyright holder still holds the copyright or patent, then they can transfer the copyright to another party under certain guidelines. That is, the copyright holder can give a second party limited rights to use their patent or copyright. At this point, the second party owns a part of the copyright, but they don’t own the entire thing themselves.

Two Different Concepts In Today’s World

In the end, royalty free means a licensee can use a work without owning the copyright or paying royalties on a per use basis. Copyright free means the copyright itself has expired or a second party has acquired the right to use that work. These two terms are used interchangeably, but the fact of the matter is that they couldn’t be any more different. Copyrights and royalties cover two different concepts. A copyright protects a licensor that charges a royalty to use intellectual property. Then again, copyright free and royalty free have nothing to do with each other.

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