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Brian Cockburn Brian Cockburn's principal role is to teach and advise faculty, administrators and students about copyright, and intellectual property.
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Phone: 8-6978

Creative Commons License

Copyright@JMU is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

What are Author's Rights



  • The reproduction right–the right to make copies
  • The distribution right–the right to sell copies
  • The derivative works right–the right to adapt or recast the original work into another format, media or genre
  • The public performance right
  • The public display right

As a general rule, the distribution right and the public display right expire when the copies have been sold. That is, the author doesn’t have a right to control the redistribution of a sold copy of his or her work, or control the public display of the sold copy.  Other rights do not expire when the copy has been sold, so that the author still has the right to control the reproduction, adaptation, or public performance of a sold copy of his or her work.

Each of these exclusive rights is infinitely divisible by time and place. For example, the author could see worldwide distribution rights, or just North American distribution rights, or just Virginia distribution rights, or just Harrisonburg distribution rights, and these could be sold for 10 years, 5 years, or a day.

The U.S. copyright law is contained in the U.S. Code, Title 17. Section 106 lists the exclusive rights, while sections 107-122 cover limitations in the scope of copyright.