Different Types of Copyright

A copyright is legal protection for intellectual property, which can include books, poems, music, song lyrics, photographs, drawings and paintings. In the United States, copyright protection begins immediately upon creation of intellectual property in a fixed form and requires no special registration for protection, although registering with the U.S. Copyright Office does allow you to sue if someone infringes upon your copyrighted material. Although there is only one type of copyright, there are different ways in which copyrights can be distributed.
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Movie Rights

  • A copyright holder can sell movie rights to an individual without selling rights to any other part of a work. For instance, if a movie company wants to make a movie based on a book, the author or other person who owns the copyright to that book can sell movie rights to the company. This gives the company the right to make a movie based on that book, but it would not have any claim to income generated from the book itself. The author of the book, after selling movie rights, would not be entitled to money generated from the movie, other than what is stipulated in the contract.

Paperback and Digital Rights

  • A publisher may have the right to publish a book in hardback without having paperback rights. In many cases, an author may make a separate deal for paperback rights. These negotiations are typically handled upfront, before a publishing contract is signed. With the popularity of ebooks, this same rule applies to digital rights. For musicians, selling rights to a recording can be separate from selling the rights for sheet music to be printed and distributed. These details are determined during the contract negotiation process.

International Rights

  • The right to publish copyrighted material in the United States does not confer a right to publish in other countries. A copyright owner may sell international rights to a work, for additional compensation.

Exclusive Rights

  • Under exclusive rights, the copyright holder sells the rights to a publisher, recording company or film company. This same method can apply to a photographer selling photos or an artist selling paintings or drawings. When you sell exclusive rights, you give the entity purchasing the copyrighted material the right to be the only entity using the material.


Transferring Copyright

  • In a transfer of copyright, the copyright owner transfers all legal claim to a copyright to another person or company. In this case, the creator of the work no longer has the ability to earn income or claim infringement for the copyrighted material. The new owner of the copyright gets to decide who can use the copyrighted material and the manner in which it can be used.

Additional Rights

  • A copyright owner can stipulate that copyrighted material can be used for any purpose or can be used only in specific instances, such as for noncommercial use. A copyright owner can grant full permission to use copyrighted material free and for any purpose. The owner of a copyright retains all right to copyrighted material unless the copyright is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office and then transferred .

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