How to Transfer a Copyright

A Chicago IL Patent Lawyer

 Chicago IL Patent LawyerA copyright is a form of intellectual property that gives the creator of an original work the rights to use or distribute the work. Only the creator, or copyright owner, has exclusive rights to the work. Copyright laws are important so that the creators or authors know that their work is not being plagiarised or stolen by others. A copyright is typically made when an author, or group of authors, create the work. Some may go extra lengths to have a copyright legally registered, which may make it easier to defend copyright law in court, but it is generally not necessary.

When a copyright owner wishes to grant another person access to the rights of his or her work, they must complete a copyright transfer agreement. One of the experienced Chicago IL patent lawyers from our firm can assist you with this process.

The Transfer of a Copyright

If a copyright owner wants to give one exclusive, or partially exclusive rights, of the copyrighted material, then a written agreement must be signed by the copyright owner or the owner’s attorney. If non-exclusive rights are being transferred, then a written agreement is not necessary but is still usually advised.

Registering the Copyright Transfer Agreement

A Copyright Transfer Agreement (CTA), or any other intellectual property transfers, must be submitted to the U.S. Copyright Office to be examined and officially recorded. The document stating the transfer must be signed by the copyright owner or the copyright owner’s patent lawyer to be considered valid. If either party wants a certificate of the transfer, then a fee must be paid and the Register of Copyrights will issue a certification stating that the copyright transfer was recorded.

Conflicting Transfers

If two transfers submitted to the copyright office are conflicting, then the first one submitted will be considered the valid agreement if it is recorded:

  • Within one month after being carried out in the United States.
  • Within two months after being carried out outside of the United States.
  • Before the recordation of the second transfer.

The transfer submitted later will be considered the valid agreement if it has valuable information regarding the transfer agreement that the first one did not include and if it was created with good intentions. For example, if the second agreement has a binding promise to pay royalty fees and the first one did not, then the second one will be considered the valid transfer agreement.

If there is a dispute between a non-exclusive license and a conflicting transfer of ownership, then the non-exclusive license will take precedence over the conflicting transfer if:

  • It is signed by the copyright owner or the owner’s patent lawyer.
  • The license was created before the transfer was executed.
  • The license was created with good intentions before the transfer was recorded.

In this case, it does not matter if the non-exclusive license was recorded or not as long as it meets the conditions stated above.


The copyright owner has full control over how the work is transferred. He or she can specify modifications to the transfer agreement if they do not want the new owner to publish certain statements, tables, pictures, etc. These modifications are attached to the transfer agreement and are called addendums. There are varied policies on addendums, though, and it is advised to consult with a legal professional to advise on how to create such modifications.

Termination of Transfers

An author may want to reacquire the rights to his or her works that were previously transferred, but the process of terminating a copyright transfer is often complex and time-consuming. There are various rules regarding transfer terminations depending on when the copyrighted work was published. Termination of transfer can occur anywhere between 28 years and 56 years after the copyrighted work was first published.

Contact a Chicago IL Patent Lawyer for Assistance

Our Chicago IL patent lawyers at The Law Offices of Konrad Sherinian, LLC have experience dealing with copyright transfer agreements, addendums, and terminations. If you need any further information regarding copyrights or would like to set up a consultation, please contact our office today.