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What is a Copyright Release Form?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 16, 2024
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A copyright release form is basically a legal form that releases legal ownership of a copyright to someone else. This is typically done in situations where someone is being paid by another individual or company to produce a work to which he or she would typically own the copyright. By using a release form of this type, the copyright can be transferred to the company or person paying for the creation of the work as soon as it is created, without the need for specific forms for each work. A copyright release form can also be more precise and relate only to a particular work, such as a specific photograph.

Copyright ownership is typically established at the moment a person creates a work of art. By using a copyright release form, an artist is able to either waive his or her copyright on a work or ensure that others involved with the work waive any possible copyright they may have. For example, a copyright release form could be used by a photographer to ensure that models or participants in a photography session understand that the photographer has sole copyright ownership over the work. While this type of form may not always be necessary, it can often make any future legal proceedings easier.

One of the major uses of a copyright release form is for “work for hire” or “freelance” situations in which an artist creates a work for someone else. While international copyright law establishes specific guidelines for works of art created for a company that pays an artist for his or her work, such forms can make the matter more clear for all involved. This type of copyright release form will usually indicate what type of work an artist is doing for a company or individual, and state that the copyright for all such work will be owned by the business, and not the individual doing the work.

A copyright release form can also be created to pertain to a particular piece of work that has already been created. For example, a photographer will typically own the copyright for any photographs he or she takes. If a photographer sells a photograph to a business or private individual for use by that person, then the photographer may need to sign a copyright release form to indicate that the copyright has been sold to the buyer. While this may be a formality, it is often done to ensure that no confusion exists regarding who has ultimate ownership over a work of art.

MyLawQuestions is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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