What Does “In Perpetuity” Mean?

What Does "In Perpetuity" Mean? | Contracts for Creatives | Ashlee Hightower | Attorney for Creatives

Legal contracts can be difficult to read even when written in laymen’s terms.  Throw in a few legal terms, and contracts can become down right confusing.  There are certain contract terms that come up often in blogger/brand contracts (as well as other creative contracts) that aren’t commonly used in conversation.  One of those terms is “in perpetuity.”

The question of what exactly “in perpetuity” means came up frequently in conversations I had while attending and speaking at The Blog Societies Conference earlier this month.  With that said, I thought it deserved a dedicated blog post.  It’s an important term and one to keep an eye out for when reading a contract!

What Does “In Perpetuity” Mean?!

The short answer: Forevvvvvvvver.  Webster’s Dictionary defines the term as “for all time forever.”

When you see “in perpetuity” in a contract, it’s usually referring to the release of rights.  In a blogger/brand contract, it’s usually referencing the release of rights to images, videos, and any content you create as part of the collaboration.  When you grant a party rights to use your content “in perpetuity” that means the party can use your images, videos, copy, and even your likeness forever and ever and ever.

Another time you’ll likely encounter the term is towards the end of a contract.  The term “in perpetuity” will reference the fact that certain contract terms extend past the end of the collaboration.  For example, although the contract may reference the fact that the collaboration will run for six months, there may be certain aspects of the contract like confidentiality clauses or non-disclosure agreements that apply “in perpetuity.”  This means that when the collaboration is over, those contract terms still apply, forever.

How to Address “In Perpetuity” In a Contract

When you come across “in perpetuity” in a contract and it’s referring to you giving up or transferring your rights, a red flag should go off in your head.  You’ll want to address this with the brand (or other party) with the goal of narrowing the scope of what rights you’re transferring.  Perhaps you can limit the time or the way in which the brand has the right to use your photos, videos, or content.

Are there other legal terms that pop up in contracts that you’d like a little clarification on?  Shoot me an email at ashlee@ashleehightower.com!

All of the information provided is for educational and informational purposes only.

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