Licensing vs. Selling Content

What is the difference between licensing and selling content?

No matter how big or small, every single social media influencer must know the difference between licensing vs. selling their content. I come across influencers all the time who have no idea if they just made a deal to license or sell their content. Even scarier is when I come across “agents” and “managers” who don't negotiate this point in their client's agreements. 

The difference between licensing and selling is easy to understand but often overlooked. Licensing content means that the influencer created content for a brand and is allowing the brand to utilize the content in certain areas. Selling content means that the influencer created content for a brand and the brand is going to own the content outright. 

Licensing deals need to be specifically crafted taking into account things like (1) where can the brand share the content (ex. across all or some of the brand's social media channels, in paid ads, or on television), (2) how long can the brand use the content, and (3) if the content is going to appear in paid ads or whitelisted, should the influencer receive additional consideration (HINT: the answer is yes). 

When an influencer sells their content, the brand owns it outright and can put the content wherever, and at whatever time, they please. Sometimes an influencer can negotiate for the content to remain in its original form and never undergo edits. 

Clearly there's a large difference between licensing and selling content. As such, the influencer should be compensated accordingly. Selling content should always cost more than licensing content. If an influencer is licensing content, they should receive more compensation the more places the content is shared, the longer it's used, and especially if the brand is going to run paid ads. 

If you have an agent or manager who isn't negotiating these points, find someone new or hire a lawyer to help them. Some agents and managers are great at sourcing deals but they're not so great when it comes to working out the details. Reach out to my office anytime at (424) 202-4239, [email protected], or visit my website at to set up your free consultation. 

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Pitt Entertainment Law is a law firm representing independent creators (Production Companies, Producers, Writer, Directors, Physical Production Crew, Actors, and Social Media Influencers) across Film, Television, and Social Media.

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