Last week I negotiated a pretty good deal for one of my author clients.  She was ready to sign away all of her valuable subsidiary rights, until I stepped into the picture.  Without bragging, I will say, had she not brought me in when she did, she would be tied to this publisher forever—whether or not they did a good job.

The original agreement from the publisher stated that the any and every book my client wrote, from that day forward, would belong to the publisher. Further that any merchandise, audio or video programs, speaking engagements, and coaching would belong to the publisher.  Because of my ability and skill in focusing on intellectual property issues, she was able to keep all the rights she wanted to keep.

This situation could have turned out quite badly.  Fortunately for her—it did not.  But this scenario got me thinking about how little most content creators understand about their rights. So today’s post will discuss the rights a copyright owner has in their original content.

Subject to certain limitations, a creator of content, or other original works of art and/or authorship, has a number of exclusive rights granted to them by the Copyright Act (See 17 USC §§§106, 113-118).  As the copyright owner, you have the right to:

  • Reproduce the copyrighted work – i.e., you can make copies and duplicate your work;
  • Prepare derivative works based on the work – i.e., you can repurpose your work and turn a book into a movie, speech, coaching program;
  • Sell, rent, lease, or lend the work – i.e., you can license your work in a variety of venues;
  • Perform or present the work publicly – i.e., record your music, share your speech, perform your choreographic work;
  • Display the work publicly – i.e., post your photographs online or in a gallery, and
  • Authorize others to do any of the above.

Since you have the right to do all of the above, once you create original and tangible works of art, next time you write a book, take a fabulous photograph, design a cool website,  write a poem or a piece of music or a screenplay, think about how precious and valuable that work really is.  If you think in terms of ALL the valuable rights you now have in that one item, you can understand why you should protect it.

Until next time, THINK ASS-et Protection!