While reading through an album booklet I came across a scenario where the artist, Lana Del Rey had a copyright under exclusive license to sed record company. From an ownership perspective how does this work?

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Bonus: Is there a difference between the terms under the exclusive license of and under the exclusive license to? I've seen this on a few occasions and was just wondering if this was a matter of phrasing.

2 Answers 2


Intellectual property such as copyrighted material carries with it the requirement that the owner give permission to use the thing in a particular way. A "license" is simply permission (the concept is applicable to other thing like driving and conducting business). In the context of copyright, it refers to a document stating the conditions on the two parties: the party with the right grants permission to the person wanting to use the thing, as long as they do certain things. If A (the rights-holder) grants an exclusive license to B, then only B can do those things, otherwise, A might also grant a license to C to do the same things. The distinction between "license of" and "license to" tends to refer to identifying the party granting a license ("license of") and the party being granted a license ("license to"), but you shouldn't plan on taking that to the bank.

  • Thanks for the reply. So in the case of my attached example, would you say Lan Del Rey is the one granting Polydor the exclusive license or the other way around? Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 5:23
  • Yes, which you get from ©2012 Lana Del Rey (which basically means "I hold the copyright"), plus of course the fact that she is an artist and Polydor is a record company, and artists grant licenses to recording companies, and not the reverse. Though, of course, in this case it's exclusive within a particular country.
    – user6726
    Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 5:30
  • An exclusive license usually prohibits the copyright owner from doing any of the things licensed
    – Dale M
    Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 22:39

In this case, Lana Del Rey is the copyright holder. She has given the permission to distribute the work in the USA to Interscope Records. This is an exclusive license, so unless Lana Del Rey somehow manages to revoke that license, she cannot give a license to anyone else in the USA.

Interscope Records has an exclusive license from Lana Del Rey. It's like saying "I give a present to you" vs. "You receive a present from me". So Interscope Records doesn't own the copyright, but they have a license to distribute the work in the USA.

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