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Copyright License Does Not Automatically Include Right to Sue

July 7, 2003

In Shvily v. Telecanal Ltd. et al the Tel Aviv District Court noted the distinction between transfer of copyrights and the license of copyrights. A license, unlike a transfer of rights, does not include the right to sue for copyright infringement without the consent of the copyright owner.

In Shvily the plaintiff licensed exclusive distribution rights in Israel to certain television films from an Italian copyright owner. Later the Italian copyright owner licensed a Russian dubbed version of one of the films to the Israeli Russian-language broadcaster Telecanal.

Honorable Judge Zaft ruled that since the copyright owner approved the use by Telecanal, plaintiff, as a licensee, does not have a valid copyright claim against Telecanal, since the license does not include the right to sue for copyright infringement.

According to the court plaintiffs right course of action should be a breach of contract suit against the Italian licensor and not a copyright infringement claim against the broadcaster.

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