By displaying or publishing (“posting”) any Content on or through the MySpace Services, you hereby grant to MySpace a limited license to use, modify, delete from, add to, publicly perform, publicly display, reproduce, and distribute such Content . . .
There is a reason for the list that most non-lawyers don’t understand: a “copyright” isn’t just one right — it’s actually a bundle of rights — and a copyright owner can agree to license or transfer some or all of the rights.
The Copyright Act specifically says (emphasis added):
§ 106. Exclusive rights in copyrighted works
Subject to sections 107 through 122, the owner of copyright under this title has the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following:
(1) to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords;
(2) to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;
(3) to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
(4) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicly;
(5) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to display the copyrighted work publicly; and
(6) in the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.
A “derivative work” is basically a new work that is based on the original work — it’s a modification of the original work. This is why a list would talk about the right to change the original work and why MySpace.com’s Content license lists the right to “modify, delete from, add to” your posted material.
Since a copyright owner can license or transfer some or all or the rights, careful lawyers specify which rights are being licensed or transferred. They write out a list.
I have seen some bizarre contracts drafted by web designers who didn’t understand copyright rights. They actually created an IP mess because they didn’t understand how to write a copyright license or transfer.
When you are granting a license or getting a license to copyrighted work, you want to see a list of the specific rights involved.
It’s important to know your rights as a copyright owner and what you are transferring or licensing. It’s also important to know a copyright owner’s rights when you want to use or own another’s copyrighted work.
My next post will talk about a full transfer of copyright rights — a copyright assignment.
To learn more about copyright law and why it’s important if you are paying someone else to design your website read How a Legally Ignorant Web Designer Can Create an IP Mess for a Startup’s Website.
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