Scholarship, research, teaching, learning, and professional activities often result in the creation of original works. Many rights are automatically granted to the author(s) or creator(s) regardless of whether the work is published or unpublished. Timely action can help secure additional rights:
Transferring Your Copyright
Some or all of a copyright owner's rights may be transferred (i.e., given or sold) to another party—this is also known as "assigning" your rights. The agreement must be in writing (i.e., a contract) and signed by the owner or the owner's authorized agent. Transfer of a right on a nonexclusive basis does not require a written agreement. For information pertaining to your circumstance, consult an attorney.
Retain Your Rights When Publishing/Distributing
Transferring some of your rights (e.g., to a publisher, record label, or end users) can help ensure distribution of your work, but you can also choose to retain certain rights for yourself. Today, many authors are signing amended publisher agreements that permit them to retain certain rights associated with non-profit personal, professional, or educational activities (e.g., sharing one's work with colleagues or uploading a copy to a digital repository). This idea of selectively retaining rights has become a central point in reshaping the concept of scholarly communication.