Publishing Rights vs Copyright: What You Need to Know

When it comes to your work as a writer, it’s important to understand the difference between publishing rights and copyright.

Copyright vs. Publishing Rights

Here’s a quick overview of what you need to know:


Copyright is a form of legal protection that gives you, the creator of a work, the exclusive right to control how that work is used. This includes the right to reproduce, distribute, perform, or display the work. Copyright protection is automatic in the United States; you don’t have to register your work with the government in order to receive copyright protection.

Publishing rights

Publishing rights, on the other hand, are rights that you grant to a publisher in exchange for payment. This could be the right to reproduce your work in a book, or the right to perform your work on stage. When you sign a publishing contract, you’re essentially giving the publisher the exclusive right to control how your work is used during the term of the contract.

It’s important to understand the difference between these two concepts, because it can have a big impact on your career as a writer. For example, if you sign a publishing contract and grant a publisher the exclusive right to your work, you won’t be able to sell or license that work to anyone else during the term of the contract. That’s why it’s important to read contracts carefully before signing them, and to make sure that you understand all of the rights you’re granting to the publisher.

Now that you know the basics of publishing rights and copyright, you can start to think about how these concepts might apply to your own career as a writer. If you have any questions, be sure to talk to a qualified attorney who can help you navigate the legal side of things.

What can you do to protect your copyright?

Here are a few things you can do to protect your copyright:

Register your work

Register your work with the U.S. Copyright Office. This isn’t required, but it can give you additional legal protection if you need to enforce your copyright in court.

Use a copyright notice

This is a statement that appears in your work that says something like, “Copyright © 2018 by John Doe. All rights reserved.” This notice will help to deter people from infringing on your copyright.

Keep records

Keep records of when you created your work and when you published it. This can be helpful if you ever need to prove that you’re the original creator of the work.

Be aware of your rights

Copyright law can be complex, so it’s important to educate yourself about your rights as a copyright holder. You can find helpful information on the U.S. Copyright Office website, or by talking to a qualified attorney.

Enforce your rights

If you believe that someone has infringed on your copyright, you can contact the offender and demand that they stop using your work. If they don’t comply, you may need to take legal action to protect your rights.

Taking these steps can help you to protect your copyright and make sure that your work is used in the way that you intended.