When conducting brand deals, the content you make for the brand under the original brand agreement terms does NOT give the brand automatic rights to use your content unless previously stated or agreed upon in a contract.
This means when a brand asks to use your content in their marketing materials, social medial platforms, or in ads, you do not have to say “yes.” In fact, you should not say yes until you and the brand have agreed upon a content license agreement to protect you as the content creator.
What is a content license agreement?
A content licensing agreement is a contract between a copyright owner (content creator) and a third party (brand or company.)
This should not be confused with a sponsorship agreement which is a contract between a brand and content creator to establish content deliverables and sponsorship terms in exchange for monetary compensation.
For most, a sponsorship agreement will allow the brand and content creator to establish things such as what deliverables are to be created, when and where to post deliverables, and how much the deliverables cost.
The sponsorship agreement does not automatically give the brand rights to use the work unless the content creator agrees to it in the agreement. To keep yourself safe as a content creator, you want to maintain all copyright and draft a content licensing agreement that is separate from the sponsorship agreement.
When should you use a content licensing agreement?
If you have ever finished a campaign as stated in a sponsorship agreement and a brand asks to redistribute the content on their website, social, or ads, then you need a content licensing agreement.
Without one, you are giving the brand permission to use your content and potentially earn revenue without having to share any payments or royalties with you.
With a licensing agreement, this will allow the brand (known as the licensee) to use and potentially earn income from your intellectual property and content but also keeps you the copyright holder safe, but putting terms and conditions of use, along with attaches a clause that allows you to get paid for your work.
Even if you are not looking for extra compensation for a brand to use your work, a content license agreement should be drafted to establish where your content is allowed to be posted and for what purposes posting is allowed.
For example, if a brand sees a post of mine on Instagram and wants to reshare it on their Instagram account, I typically do not ask for payment as it can be great exposure for my personal brand.
But, I would still want to draft a simple content license agreement to set boundaries on how they can use my photo, this way they do not try to use it to generate income through ads or any other type of marketing material.
What factors go into charging for content licensing?
Charging for content licensing is not a one size fits all, in fact, each license agreement you create should be custom made and you should keep the following in mind when drafting your agreement.
- License duration
- File size
- Intent of use
Having these variables in mind so this way you aren’t charging $50 for a 30-second video shot in 4k intended for Ads or marketing materials.
But also helps you not overcharge as a 509 x 339 px image with the intent to be posted on a website banner wouldn’t be more than $100
But let’s break down each of the 5 variables so you can better decide how much to charge for your next licensing agreement.
License duration, also known as term length, is the length of time you are allowing the brand to use your work. Typically this would be decided in the number of years you are allowing for use, although you can have short-term agreements for certain campaigns such as super-bowl events or back-to-school. In some instances, there are lifetime agreements that would be the most expensive and allow the brand not to have to renew the contract terms.
So if you and the brand agree on a 1-year term length, then you would have to follow up in a year to see if they want to pay for another year of use or ask them to stop using the content if they did not what to renew the licensing agreement.
Content format is how the content is made such as copy, which is usually written content (blog post, email, etc) you also have images, and video. This is important as video content is usually more to license than written content.
Another thing to keep in mind is file size. The larger the file, the more you can charge. One of the reasons is because it takes more processing power to create and store a 4k video than it does a video shot in 720p.
The same goes for images. Most people who purchase a licensing agreement will choose a larger file as it looks better in print than an image file that is smaller. This is due to the larger file having more pixels which creates a clearer image.
Next is the audience which may be a bit tricky as a company can easily say their audience is local, but place your content on their YouTube channel which would then be considered worldwide as YouTube is an open platform.
This is why you want to establish the intent of use which allows you the creator to know exactly how the content will be distributed and the purpose of distribution such as in a video or newspapers for educational purposes if they intend for the content to be used for commercial or non-commercial work.
You can even set terms as to what websites the content is allowed to be posted on during the term length. So if a brand says they want to use it in one of their YouTube videos, you can set the terms to only be used in that video and have restrictions to be posted nowhere else. If they violate those terms, you have legal rights to charge them fines for violating the content licensing agreement.
Now once you have all the variables set and you know the term length, intent of use, audience, file size, and format, you can put together your license agreement with the price.
How much to charge for content licensing?
Most creators will start at around 10-25% of the sponsorship agreement price. So if you and the brand agreed on a $1000 sponsorship agreement for a 30-second video integration and then they ask you to use the 30-second video in their own marketing materials, you can charge between $100-$250 depending on the variables mentioned above.
Now, if the brand contacts you for the first time and needs you to create content for them and you do not have a former sponsorship agreement, then you will need to set the price as a new project.
Typically, most places that sell stock content such as Getty Images will charge around $499 for a 30-second video shot in 4k for limited creative use and over $7000 for unlimited commercial use. Using these sites is helpful as you can use the same calculator to get a better idea of exactly how to price your content based on the brand’s wants and needs.
How to draft a content licensing agreement?
When it comes to drafting an agreement, it’s always a good idea to get an attorney-drafted content licensing agreement.
This does not mean you have to pay for an attorney every time, in fact, there are attorneys such as Brittaney Ratelle, who has contracts for creators that you can purchase once, and then edit as needed.
You can also save money by selecting a free template online, but just ensure the template includes the following
- Who the licensee is (usually the brand)
- The licensor (which is you)
- The term length and contract renewal date
- Set terms of conditions which include the payment details, distribution details, approved websites, arbitrations details, and ownership of content (remember they are just using the content, you still own the copyright.)
- You also want information in the agreement that states what is to happen if any of the terms of service is violated.
Drafting a Content License Agreement can be a lot, and it takes one little thing to not be in order for you to lose rights to your content, or rights to payment for your contract.
The important thing to note is that as a content creator, you own the rights to your content, and just because you have a sponsorship agreement with a brand, or the brand paid you previously for the deliverables of your content, does not mean they get automatic usage rights to your content.
This is why your sponsorship agreement should clearly state who owns content and usage rights and a content license agreement should be drafted separately, even if you are not expecting additional compensation.
These agreements may seem like a hassle, but it’s worth it in the long run.
When you do start getting more sponsorship and license agreements, make sure to keep them organized in your Social Bluebook brand deal tracker and calendar so you can get paid what you’re worth and never miss an upload date.