What is Art Licensing

Simple Definition

Art Licensing, in the simplest of terms, is renting your copyright (art) to someone to use on their product.

There are essentially two major parts to any (well-written) license agreement.

  •  First is the part that deals with “general terms”; this part includes a “preamble” along with topics such as indemnification, liability, termination and the like. The General Terms will be discussed in the post entitled “Agreement Terms
  •  The second part of the license agreement is the “grant”, which contains terms that are unique to each individual license.

Typical License Grant Terms

The licensing grant contains the “rental” terms (rights of use definitions). You, the artist are the “Licensor”. The manufacturer is the “Licensee”.


Typically, the terms specified in a “License Grant” document are:

  • What Art is being licensed.
  • How Long Can Licensee Use the Art.
  • Where in the World it can be Used.
  • On What Product.
  • How Much You Are Paid. And more (see below).

High-level descriptions of these terms follow:

  • “Licensed Art”: description (your copyrighted image)
  • “License Term”: how long can licensee use your art; one year, three years… etc.
  • “License Territory”: usually North America or World-wide, but can be specified according to licensee’s needs: USA, Asia, South America, Europe…
  • “Licensed Products”: what licensee product(s) can use the art: Prints. Greetings. Textiles. Table-Top…
  • “Licensed Quantity”: how many imprints can licensee make on their products (sometimes no limit during the term)
  • “License Fees”: what fees & Royalties are required: advance, percent on sales, minimum fee, one time fee.
  • “Other Compensation”: for example, free products
  • “Payment Details”: how often, royalty reporting requirements
  • “Limitation of Liability”: artist is responsible only for valid art copyright and not for any licensee issues [Liability will be discussed in the post entitled “Agreement Terms”]