top of page

Managing Copyright Assets

A copyright is established upon creation and documented publication. For materials of significant value, we recommended that you register the original version of a literary work, song, music sound track, movie, book or software. The copyright includes the right to reproduce the work, to prepare derivative works, to distribute copies to perform and display the work publicly. Each new copyright is protected for the life of the creator, plus 70 years.

For example, a software program or mobile app copyright is the application of copyright law to machine readable software which could be an entire software program or just a significant amount of code written to perform a specific task. A software copyright lasts for life of creator, plus 70 years. We do recommend registering your software or mobile app copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office to better protect your asset (s) long-term.

Today, we're finding the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) with the ability to create "original" written content, art images and graphics. But so far, the U.S. District Courts do not yet recognize materials created by AI, as legally copyrighted materials. However, the coming Metaverse or 3D virtual reality worlds will increasingly take on business retail, manufacturing and professional applications which may significantly challenge current copyright laws. We expect within the next ten years, that AI created materials could be protected under U.S. Copyright Laws.

Although, it is important to understand not all creative works are protected, such as public domain materials, an intellectual property term referring to creative works -- photos, video, movies, music, art etc. -- that are not protected by copyright law, and thus available for anyone to use FREE of charge and alter as they wish. As a general rule, most works enter the public domain because of old age or to stimulate creative entrepreneurship initiatives.

Typically, the royalty payments i.e. money received for a copyrighted work such as art, music or book on-average is about 5% - 10% of the net sales of the licensee’s products. This is known as a per unit royalty. But depending on the popularity of the work, a royalty could be 15% or so, writes J. Dean at

Legally, it is up to the individual creator to "monitor" the use of their copyrighted work in order to uncover, enforce and protect the copyright. And it maybe expensive to hire a lawyer to protect the work, so be sure it's worth it to pursue such as claim prior to attempting enforcement. Often a simple Cease and Desist notice drafted by an attorney and delivered to the "offender" will end the issue. Try to mediate a fair civil remedy, so both parties are satisfied.

Other ways to earn money through content, include online advertising revenue from Google. For example, a general split formula applies to Google 45% and 55% creator. While YouTube paid out $34 Billion to creators in the last three years. For example, in 2019, YouTube paid out nearly $15 Billion to creators. And YouTube has over two million paid video creators making steady money.

According to the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry – presenting revenue stats for the music industry – notes media economist Will Page has published a complete review of the music copyright royalties. According to his study the "wider genre market" was worth $31.6 Billion, up $2.1 billion, about 7% annual growth in royalties.

But the split of royalties paid out today is full album recordings 62% vs songs 38%. While in 2014 it was recordings 55% and songs 45%. Which might further the argument on the songwriter side that the current slicing of the digital pie means they are not properly benefiting from the streaming boom. Although Page also points out that 2014 was the global record industry’s lowest ebb after fifteen years of decline.

According to Page’s stats, streaming accounted for 47% of overall revenues. “With strong signs that 2021 will be another record-breaking year, we can expect that streaming will make up the majority of copyright’s value” in his next study, he predicts, noting that’s “an important watermark”.

Further, in the United States, we calculate 126 million users of paid subscription services with 115 million unique adult Android users and 94 million unique adult iPhone users. While the U.S. subscription market has generally reached full bloom, tremendous upside remains globally. We calculated for Asia and Africa making up 80% of the new subscription user growth by 2030. This growth should accelerate with the ubiquitous roll out of 5G satellite Internet streaming apps, said J. Dean at

Typically, your royalty payments are computed by multiplying the royalty rate against net sales. For example, a royalty rate of 5% multiplied by net sales of $1,000 equals a net sales royalty of $50. Royalty rates for licensing vary depending on the popularity of the artwork involved. But if you created say 200 pieces of original artwork that made $50 each, annually that's $10,000 income without doing much of anything, but agreeing to licensing.

Book royalty agreements generally use 20% to 35% of publishing revenue for hardcover, 15% paperback and 25% eBook. So, a typically book selling for $12.95 would yield a $2.59 royalty payment per book sold. Figure on-average the author sells 7,000 copies x $2.59 royalty equals $18,130 income annually. And selling 5,000 copies per week qualifies "Best Seller".

While original video creation and movie royalties can range from 2% to 20% generally earning about $50,000 annually. But leading movie producers like John Williams, Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman have net worths ranging from $75 million to $120 million and get paid scoring fees as high as $2 million per picture. But, for what it's worth, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual income for film composers is a little over $50,000 a year.

For example, on-average an experienced YouTube video creator earns about $48,000 annually through a share in Google advertising money produced by the number of viewers.

Overall, based on average industry standards, your video will need around half a million views to earn $1,000 in Google AdSense income. That works out to be about $2 per 1,000 views (CPM) reports

Commercial art is also used by manufacturers and retailers on products as an added mechanism to help sell to consumers. They know that if a consumer is a fan of a brand or a copyrighted "property" (movie, TV show, musician etc.), and artwork from the brand or property is on a product, the chance for a purchase by that customer is significantly greater.

How manufacturers and retailers get art for resale using four primary ways :

  • The use of their own in-house art departments

  • The outright purchase of art from artists/designers (copyrights and all!)

  • The use of stock art from studios and factories who create their products

  • The licensing of art (either traditional royalty based Agreement, or a flat fee Agreement – both Agreements to define term of use, products in which the art will be used, and the territory of use, where the artist retains the copyrights to the art).

Manufacturers often choose licensing for the following reasons :

  • Exclusivity – by licensing art, a manufacturer can negotiate exclusive use of an artist’s design for their products; ensuring their competitors won’t bring the same thing to market.

  • Flexibility – by licensing art, manufacturers can work with artists with a wide variety of styles that they might not be able to create with a group of in-house artists.

  • Cost savings – when a manufacturer licenses art, they pay the artist based on how well the product sells. So while their expense can vary, they are always directly related to the income from sales of the product.

  • Design Support – many artists who license their work become like a part of the manufacturer’s design team – working together to get the art just right and often setting it up to templates for production. This saves the manufacturer the labor expense of having their own graphics team doing the work, or at least lightens the load on the in-house team.

  • Brand Recognition – manufacturers are always looking to mitigate their risks when making products. Using art from an artist who is well known and has a great following (generally realized by social media statistics) insures some level of guaranteed sales of a product.

Top Musicians Royalty Earnings 2020

  1. Taylor Swift $23.8 million

  2. Post Malone $23.2 million

  3. Celine Dion $17.5 million

  4. Eagles $16.3 million

  5. Billie Eillish $14.7 million

  6. Drake aka Aubrey Drake Graham $14.2 million

  7. Queen $13.2 million

  8. The Beatles $12.9 million

  9. YoungBoy aka Kentrell DeSean Gaulden $11.9 million

  10. Lil Baby aka Dominique Armani Jones $11.7 million

How to Monetize Copyright Assets

Like any other product, creating a valuable brand or copyright in a targeted genre or estate legacy, requires a curated story that appeals to consumers. Successfully marketing a copyright is a real science that takes dedication, skill and detailed understanding of the marketplace and ever shifting consumer trends writes J. Dean at

For example, a musician's copyrighted stable of songs, maybe reproduced multiple times with added nuances to appeal to younger generations, thus enhancing the life of the royalty earnings long-term. A professional digital marketing business is recommended for optimal management of of copyright assets and optimal royalty income solutions.

Several factors weigh into each unique case including whether the creator wants to maintain total control over the copyrighted asset by selling it directly to consumers using a proprietary eCommerce solution or simply license the asset to earn royalty income long-term, without the hassle of dealing with the sales aspects. In either case, a professional digital media firm such as makes the whole management process a more rewarding experience.

We offer over 35 years of experience in digital media business marketing. To discuss please contact 440-223-3374

53 views0 comments
bottom of page