What does it mean to hold a copyright?

You are here:
< All Topics

When you create a copyrighted work, you own a certain bundle of rights. These include the rights to copy, distribute, publicly perform, adapt (or make derivative works from), and license the work. You can exercise these rights by yourself and, more importantly, you can prevent other people from exercising them. You can also sell (the legal term is “assign”) your copyrights to another person.

More detail on the rights:

  • Copy = Duplicate all or part of the work in some fashion.
    Example: Burning a video file to a DVD.
  • Distribute = Make copies of the work and make them available to the public in some fashion.
    Example: Making multiple copies of your DVD and selling them online – or uploading your video to Motvio so people can see it.
  • Publicly perform = Exhibit or perform the work in a public setting.
    Example: Screening your video at a theater.
  • Adapt = Make a copy of some part of the original work, but refashion or incorporate it in new work.
    ​The resulting work is called a “derivative work.”
    Example: A recut version of your video, or a sequel. 
  • License = Grant other people all or some of the above rights.
    Example: Giving a theater the right to screen your video or giving a distributor the right to distribute your film.
Previous How do I have a copyright strike removed?
Next What is a copyright?
Table of Contents