What Is a Content Licensing Agreement?

Your company may use content licensing agreements to get work done daily. These legally binding contracts allow you to utilize and republish another’s intellectual property. It’s not uncommon for these agreements to be full of legalese that’s needed to make them enforceable.

Ironclad’s contract management software can help your company organize and analyze contract licensing agreements, generating valuable data metrics that can also help you improve the content licensing contract lifecycle.

What is a content licensing agreement?

A content licensing agreement allows companies to repurpose or republish material through a legal contract. Often called a copyright license, it’s a flexible solution for companies that wish to distribute previously published materials. It allows publishers to expand and leverage content on different platforms for consumer use and consumption.

Content licensing agreements handle the legal ownership and use of the intellectual property. The individual or company that owns the rights of the content grants a third party permission to use it for monetary compensation, for example, or traffic referrals. This is a legally binding contract that outlines the rights for the use of certain intellectual property, including:

  • Images
  • Text and documents
  • Data
  • Software
  • Audio
  • Video.

A content licensing agreement can give your business access to several forms of media that can help grow your brand and expand your revenue base. A marketing team building a new company blog, for instance, will likely use a content licensing agreement to republish brand-related articles, images, and videos provided by a third party. A quality contract management platform can help you handle these documents with ease and accuracy.

Types of licensing agreements

There are several forms of licensing agreements that may cover nearly any type of intellectual property. Some of the most common include:

  • Copyright licenses that outline the right to reproduce and sell legally protected material
  • Trademark licenses that grant legal permission to use a company’s trademark
  • Patent licenses that grant the right to use, sell, make, and distribute a patented product
  • Trade secret licenses that specify how and when you are allowed to use a company’s trade secrets.

The purpose of a content licensing agreement

The goal of a content licensing agreement is to obtain the rights to distribute or publish someone else’s intellectual property. These agreements ensure you have legal permission to use the property.

Content created for one company may be useful to another business. Articles or blog posts picked by your team, for example, might have been created by someone else. If your team believes this content reflects the expertise your business specializes in and can be used to draw traffic to the company’s website or bring positive attention to the overall business, a licensing agreement may be the right choice. With the right legal permission, you can use that content as agreed in the contract.

Companies are always looking for fascinating content, images, and videos to draw attention to their brands. Content owned by others may be accessible to you through a content licensing agreement.

When do I need a content licensing agreement?

If you want to use intellectual property created by an individual or company, you will need a content licensing agreement. This agreement outlines why you want to use the content and how you will use it if given permission. The owner of the content must approve of the use before it may be utilized. A licensing agreement dictates how the content will be used and under what contractual terms.

Many companies want to combine original content they create with content created by premium publishers. With permission to use the content directly, a company can add the content to its:

  • Website
  • Marketing materials
  • Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok
  • Television commercials
  • Radio ads

Parts of a content licensing agreement

While a content licensing agreement covers several topics, it primarily ensures that both parties know what content is covered by the agreement and what the rights to it are. The document also addresses all of the obligations to which the parties agree. Here’s an overview of what a content licensing agreement usually includes.

Identification of licensed content

This section must specify what type of content is licensed to the licensee. Whether it is a blog, video, image, or any other type of intellectual property, it must be explained in this part of the contract. Specific language is required to ensure the property is correctly identified.


This part of the document outlines how much the licensee must pay to use the content. This might involve a one-time payment or a per-use payment system. Other payment terms may be included, such as the method of payment and penalties for non-payment.

Exclusivity to licensed content

This section restricts where the licensor—the seller of the content—can sell this property elsewhere. Your company wants value in the content it licenses so that it’s unique to its brand. This clause prevents the licensure of this content to others based on certain restrictions to protect your rights.

Subsidiary licensing agreements

The part of the agreement may allow the licensee to permit others to use the licensed work—within set legal boundaries. Form language is very useful in handling these complex situations.

Limitations of a content licensing agreement

As stated, content licensing agreements can be complex documents. They usually require an attorney to look over the fine details. When created with pre-automated mediums, such as Word documents, they can be difficult to edit. Accuracy is often lost because these contracts are not standardized in a particular company’s contract history. Content licensing contracts require customization and the ability to negotiate with the other party.

Companies may get caught up in a time-consuming back and forth when negotiating with the owner of the content. When traditional “phone tag” or email conversations are the negotiation method, mistakes get made and significant delays result. A lack of automation typically means hiring outside legal counsel to help review agreements adding to the frustration and cost.

How to create a content licensing agreement

Creating a content licensing agreement requires drafting a legal contract. Form templates exist online, but many are unreliable and untested. A company should only use a trusted source or the help of an attorney—whether in-house or third party. When a licensing agreement is successfully drafted, it can be templated and automated for future use. 

This helps your company avoid reinventing the wheel each time. You can utilize and modify your existing template to create adaptable and customizable agreements for each new deal. Digital contract management allows you to create templates and analyze their strengths and weaknesses over time. 

Managing content licensing agreements

A company can use automated tools to reduce the time-consuming task of managing these contracts. With highly adaptable tools, Ironclad software allows for deep integration with your existing systems. It also tracks and analyzes contract metrics for documents created and modified within the system. 

Unlike the traditional model of handling contracts—like cloud storage and physical filing cabinets—modern contract lifecycle management technology allows you to keep all of your content licensing agreements in one place. In the Dynamic Repository, documents are stored and their data automatically analyzed for essential information, such as:

  • Identification of the parties
  • Contract terms
  • Start and end dates
  • Contract renewal dates
  • Workflow issues in the contract lifecycle
  • Potential automation and template suggestions.

This data and much more can be managed in a unified platform specifically designed to handle your contracting needs. 

Why content licensing agreements can be time-consuming and hard to keep track of

Without automation of your contract lifecycle, content licensing agreements may be a pain to manage. These pain points often occur because contracts are stored across separate systems that don’t talk to one another. Local storage or even cloud-based storage may not provide the unified platform necessary to automate the contracting process efficiently. 

With this lack of automation is a lack of transparency. You don’t know what is happening across departments and whether licensing agreements are consistently meeting your company’s needs.

Automating workflows for content licensing

Ironclad’s Workflow Designer tool helps you implement workflow automation at your company. It significantly streamlines the process of creating template licensing agreements that can be used and modified with many different parties. The software is easy to use without the need for extensive and specialized training. Automation of your contracting can reduce contracting time by 80% or more.

How templatable workflows can help simplify the process

Templatable workflows simplify the process of getting your contracts from start to end. It helps ensure that contracts comply with legal policies and requirements without manual review. With a template in hand, you do not have to create a contract from scratch. The institutional memory of your business contracts is kept in one place and automatically analyzed to give you up-to-date information.

Why content licensing agreements are difficult to manage

Most companies store content licensing agreements in separate systems that don’t “talk to” or communicate with each other digitally. Instead, it’s an isolated process that can make accessing or updating a specific content licensing agreement a bit cumbersome, with one department unaware of what changes or modifications another one made. This, too, leads to a lack of transparency in the content licensing agreement process.

The solution to your content licensing agreement needs

Ironclad digital contracting offers several tools that can help you automate your contracting needs, saving you time. It’s an all-in-one solution that provides full transparency throughout the contract lifecycle process. Tools that may help you automate and streamline your workflow processes include:

By automating your content licensing agreements, you can increase revenue and savings.

Why use digital contract management for content licensing agreements?

Content licensing agreements are dynamic documents that need to change to fit your specific needs. Even so, automation and the use of templates will greatly enhance the quality of your contracts. It will significantly reduce turnaround time and allow you access to the intellectual property that much sooner.

Time is money, and your time is worth everything. Try a free demo of Ironclad today to start automating your contract lifecycle.

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