Copyright Syndication and Online Content Distribution!

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.


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