In the past, copyright syndication was generally a method of licensing copyrighted videos, music, television episodes and movies to a variety of broadcasters in return for royalties. This generally entails licensing content for a return of royalties or percentage of advertising revenues from the syndicated content. However, with online syndication and the internet syndication is now a much more common method of licensing copyrighted content to third party distributors or publishers.
The creator of the syndicated or copyrighted content often gets a percentage of the advertising sales or profits from increased traffic to the distributor or publisher’s website from the syndicated content. However, there are a variety of issues to consider, such as the following:
1) Restricting use of copyrighted content through encryption technology;
2) Ownership of derivative works;
3) Rights of attribution and integrity of the copyright owner to the copyrighted or syndicated content;
3) Royalties or payments to the copyright owner or provider of the syndicated content;
4) Restricting further distribution, display or republication by other third parties or channel partners of the licensee;
5) Branding of the syndicated content and protection of the creator’s brand or trademark;
6) The copyrights of the artist performing in the syndicated content and their rights to royalties or profits;
7) Registration and maintenance of the copyrighted or syndicated content properly with the US Copyright Office;
8) Rights of publicity and misappropriation of likeness of the individuals in the copyrighted or syndicated content and their rights to profits;
9) RSS, ATOM, hyperlinks, pop up ads and a variety of methods of linking to the copyrighted or syndicated content; and
10) Restricting the domains or affiliated domains a licensee can use to distribute, display, or publish the copyrighted or syndicated content.
These are some of the issues involved in determining the terms and rights of the parties to a syndication agreement vis-a-vis each other and third parties. Online distribution of copyrighted works through YouTube, HULU, Netflix, Comcast, and broadcaster’s websites creates a host of these issues that must be addressed by any party to a copyright syndication agreement.