What does a Licensing Agent do?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A licensing agent is a person who handles requests for legal use of work, branding, and other copyrighted material. A number of companies with valuable copyrights make money through licensing and it is a licensing agent who takes care of negotiating deals and managing existing contracts. Licensing agents can work for specific companies or represent companies through agencies that handle multiple copyrights and brands. There are no special requirements to work as a licensing agent, but many have advertising experience, as well as legal experience. These skill sets are ideally suited to people handling licensing requests.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

Part of the value in holding a copyright is in the control of how and where the material protected by copyright is used. Selective licensing can make a brand stronger in addition to generating profits for the copyright holder. Licensing is used for everything from allowing companies to manufacture copyrighted products to allowing a person's image to be used with an advertising campaign. People and companies that control major copyrights usually use a licensing agent.

If someone has an interest in using a copyright for a campaign or product, that person needs to approach the licensing agent who handles that copyright for permissions. Permissions are negotiated on a case-by-case basis, and usually include fees and royalties. Licensing a big brand can be quite costly and people are careful to do their research ahead of time to confirm that the brand will pay off.

Licensing agents are not inert entities. In addition to processing requests, they also promote the copyrights they represent. This includes providing information about licensing opportunities to people who might be interested, actively seeking out companies to partner with on licensing agreements, and being proactive about identifying unauthorized use of copyrights. If unauthorized uses are identified, an after-the-fact deal can be arranged, or the case can be taken to court to demand that the use cease immediately.

This type of work requires knowledge of an industry, the ability to make and maintain contacts, interest in copyright law, and excellent communication skills. Licensing agents must be able to negotiate good deals on behalf of the people and companies they represent, and sometimes this requires demonstrating the benefits of a licensing agreement to both parties. Licensing agents are usually paid a fee based on a percentage of the final agreement, creating an incentive to negotiate lucrative deals for their employers.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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