Protected rights

Copyright basics

Copyright protects two types of rights:

1. Moral rights give the author of a work the right of:

  • Attribution - an author can choose how and if their name appears on the work
  • Integrity – an author can prevent others from changing the work
  • Association - allows the author to prevent use of their work in association with a product, service, cause, or institution that would be detrimental to the reputation of the author

Moral rights may not be assigned but may be waived in whole or in part. Moral rights for a work exist for the same term as the copyright in the work.

2. Exclusive rights grant the copyright holder the sole right to:

  • produce,
  • sell,
  • reproduce,
  • perform,
  • publish,
  • adapt,
  • translate, or
  • alter a work.

The copyright holder may grant someone else the ability to exercise one or more of these rights on an exclusive or non-exclusive basis. Therefore, anyone who wants to use a work in any of these ways must get permission from the copyright holder first. Copyright law does provide some exceptions to these exclusive rights.  Additionally, some copyright holders may choose to publish their work under a Creative Commons license that allows their work to be shared and used based on the type of license chosen.

Should you have any questions please contact the Copyright Office.

The Copyright Office makes every effort to provide accurate information but does not offer it as counsel or legal advice.