An implied licence refers to a licence granted by the owner of a copyright or intellectual property rights that is not explicitly stated in a formal written agreement but is understood or implied based on the actions or conduct of the parties involved. In other words, it is a licence that is not expressly documented but is assumed or inferred from the circumstances.
Implied licences are often created in situations where it is reasonable to assume that the copyright owner has granted permission for certain uses of their work, even though there is no written agreement to that effect. These licences are usually limited in scope and often arise in the context of business relationships, employment, or other interactions where it is clear that certain uses of the copyrighted material were intended by both parties.
For example, if an artist is hired to create a painting for a restaurant, there may be an implied licence for the restaurant to display the artwork in its establishment as part of the decoration. While this licence is not explicitly spelled out in a contract, it is implied because it is understood that the restaurant commissioned the artwork for that specific purpose.
Implied licences can be a source of legal disputes when the parties involved have different interpretations of what uses were authorised. Therefore, it is often advisable to have clear, written agreements to avoid ambiguity and potential conflicts related to the use of copyrighted materials.
You can learn more about this topic with our Intellectual Property notes.