Under the U.S. Copyright Act, certain exclusive rights are granted to owners of a copyright. These exclusive rights differ from rights that a person has who just owns a copy of the work such as property rights. For example, when a person purchases a certain book from a store they gain property right over that book. The property owner of the book can resell the book, destroy the book, or do anything he wants with that book. However, the owner of the book does not have exclusive copyright rights over the book, the author and creator of the book does.

A property owner of a certain item cannot make copies of the item and resell them for profit because only the creator has the exclusive rights to do so. The only person who can claim the exclusive rights of the property is the author or creator of the work.

What Is the Purpose of Exclusive Rights?

Copyright and exclusive rights allow you to make a living of the creations that you make. When you write a book or make music, you get exclusive rights to your creation and no one else can perform or recreate it without your permission. Without exclusive rights, other can steal and profit off your creation without your consent.

What Types of Exclusive Rights Are Owners Entitled To?

Copyright owners are entitled to six exclusive rights:

  • Reproduction Right - Copyright owners have the right to exclude all others from reproducing their works in the form of copies. Although the right is basic and seems obvious, the statute should be referred to for the exact definition of a copy.
  • Derivative Work Right - Copyright owners have the right to exclude all others from creating works based on their work. This prevents others from varying elements of the original work or changing the form of presentation and stating that it is not actually a copy.
  • Distribution Right- Authors are limited to distributions considered the first sale of the work.
  • Performance Right - Copyright owners have the right to exclude all others from publicly performing their work. This right applies only to literary, musical, dramatic, choreographic, pantomime, motion picture, and other audiovisual works.
  • Display Right - Copyright owners have the right to display copies of their work. Additionally, the copyright owners may also display a copy of their work in a way that would make it available in either multiple images or to persons outside the physical location of the copy.
  • Digital Transmission Performance Right - Sound recording copyright owners have full performance rights and have the opportunity to negotiate over, and profit from, the fees paid for such performances.

How Are Exclusive Rights Gained?

Exclusive rights can be established by law or through a contract. The scope of the enforceability of the exclusive right depends on whether there are other people that have exclusive rights to that item.

What Works Are Protected?

Copyright protects the original work of the author. The copyrightable works that are protected include:

  • Literary works
  • Musical Work
  • Dramatic work that include music
  • Sound recordings
  • Graphical or pictorial work
  • Sculptures
  • Songs and movies

Once a person has created the above items, they gain exclusive rights to the work that has been created and no one else can steal or use the work without the author and/or creators consent.

Seeking Legal Help

If you need assistance with intellectual property rights, you should consult with an experienced intellectual property lawyer.