Anyone can say they own the copyright to a work. Warranties and indemnities can be incorporated into a contract to protect you in case they don’t.

This factsheet covers the following:

How a warranty works

A warranty is a legally binding guarantee that a particular statement is true and can be relied upon by the other party.

A warranty relating to copyright is a written guarantee that the person or organisation you are dealing with owns the copyright and is therefore authorised to administer it. It is usually included in a contract or in the terms of a licence, but can be generally implied.

Who a warranty is for

Anyone seeking to license an artwork should expect a warranty from the copyright owner to the effect that they own the copyright and are entitled to grant a licence.

Collecting societies such as DACS which license artworks also often require a warranty from copyright owners before acting on their behalf.

Breaches of a warranty

In the event of a breach of warranty, where copyright turns out to be owned by someone else, the person who was issued the warranty may be able to claim for losses directly arising out of a breach of that warranty.

What an indemnity covers

It is not always clear which losses can be recovered under a warranty. Therefore, some licensees or collecting societies clarify the situation by asking for a wider contractual indemnity specifying all of the losses that, if incurred, would be looked to be recovered in the event of a breach of the warranty.

How collecting societies might limit their liability

Collecting societies such as DACS license multiple works, and rely on the warranties provided to them by copyright owners. They will in some circumstances cap any liability they may incur as a result of a breach of warranty. This limits how much they have to pay.

Disclaimer: This factsheet is offered as a general guide to the issues surrounding copyright in this area. It does not represent an exhaustive account. It is not intended to offer legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. We strongly recommend you seek specialist advice for any specific circumstances.