Authors – Know Your Rights! | WriterBeware

One of the benefits of taking a break from writing online for a period of time means that you can repost a piece you wrote many moons ago that readers found helpful or brought increased traffic to your web site. I do it on occasion when workload prevents me keeping The Independent Publishing Magazine updated for a week or more. It also means readers get a second chance to see an article they may have previously missed in their feeds.
Over on WriterBeware, Victoria Strauss has reposted an article on Rights vs. Copyright. It is an area I find writers are continually confused with and at least once a week I receive correspondence from an author asking about the meaning of the two or seeking some point of clarification on rights and copyright.

From the WriterBeware piece:


Copyright, literally, is “the right to copy.” It guarantees the authors of creative works–including books, artworks, films, recordings, and photographs–the exclusive right for a set period of time to allow other people to copy and distribute the work, by whatever means and in whatever media currently exist. It also prohibits copying and distributing without the author’s permission.

Contained within copyright is the entire bundle of rights that an author can grant to others or utilize him/herself.


When you sign a publishing contract, you are granting the publisher permission to exploit (i.e., to publish and distribute for profit) some or all of your rights for a defined period of time. Because you own thecopyright, granting rights doesn’t mean you lose or abandon those rights–merely that you authorize someone else to use them for a while, either exclusively (i.e., no one else can use them at the same time) or nonexclusively (i.e., you can also grant them to others).

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