People often use the terms "author rights" and "literary rights" to mean copyrights. Copyrights are legal rights that attach to certain types of intellectual property. Copyrights are granted under federal law to authors of creative works at the time of the work's creation in a fixed, tangible form. Authors do not have to apply for or file a copyright.
Section 106 of the Copyright Act states that only the owner of a copyright has the authority to use the work in one of six ways (examples of each provided as bullet points):
What are exclusive rights?
Copyright law states that only a copyright owner may engage in the six aforementioned rights. However, because knowledge and society would fail to progress if only a copyright owner could engage with copyrighted works, there are two ways in which others are legally permitted to use copyrighted works. These are referred to as copyright limitations.
Copyright is limited in two ways: statutorily and contractually.
Despite the power authors have as copyright owners, they become powerless when naively signing away their copyrights when executing an author agreement. Most author rights agreements transfer all copyrights to the publisher in their entirety. Researchers should thoroughly read their publishing agreements and discuss them with their Library liaison or the Copyright Information Center before signing to verify what rights they are being asked to give away.
A complete transfer of copyright can have the following negative implications: