The rights which an author of a work has by virtue of creating the work are summarized as hereunder:
- to produce copies or reproductions of the work and to sell those copies (including, typically, electronic copies)
- to import or export the work
- to create derivative works (works that adapt the original work)
- to perform or display the work publicly
- to sell, hire or cede these rights to others
- to make any translation of the work
- to transmit or display by radio or video.
The phrase “exclusive right” means that only the copyright holder is free to exercise those rights, and others are prohibited from using the work without the holder’s permission. Copyright is sometimes called a “negative right”, as it serves to prohibit others from exploiting the work of the author for their own benefit without the consent or licence of the author. It does not confer any positive right on the author himself.
Copyright does not prohibit all copying or replication, but permits some copying and distribution without permission of the copyright holder or payment to same.
A copyright, or aspects of it (e.g. reproduction alone, all but moral rights), may be assigned or transferred from one party to another. For example, an author of a book will often sign an agreement for publication and distribution of his books with a publication house, in which the author will agree to transfer all copyright in exchange for royalties and other considerations.