The Keep Your Copyrights Project

Today, too many creators take a passive attitude toward their copyrights. The matter seems complex, and publishers or distributors may tell you that everyone does it their way, or that giving up copyrights is standard practice. But giving up your rights under copyright is a decision, not a default option. If you stand passively by, you may over the course of a long creative career produce a large body of work, most of which is owned and controlled by other people, whose interests and yours may diverge.

We encourage a more proactive attitude toward copyright management. We encourage creators to understand that you start with all the rights, and that you should actively decide what you want to do with them. Your copyright in fact consists of multiple rights, and you can grant one right (or part of one right) without giving away the others. Copyright was designed to serve artists and creators, but if you give everything up, that idea can just become lip service. Worse, if you give away too many rights, the business to whom you gave up your rights can use your copyrights against you to hinder your later efforts to create or to get paid.

While this site was written by legal academics at Columbia Law School, it is not intended for lawyers or other legal academics (other than in their capacities as authors). It is also not designed to give legal advice for specific situations -- for that, you should consult a lawyer (see the disclaimer). Instead, this site is designed to help creators hold on to their copyrights, to license their rights on author-friendly terms, and in general to encourage creators to take a more active role in managing the life of their creative work.

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