What's Your Goal?

Some want to share their works as broadly as possible, and don’t particularly care if someone else remixes it or reuses it or even makes money from it. Others want to control exactly how their works are used, and by whom, and don’t want others to profit off of their works, either at all, or at least without paying the authors. Many creators want attribution, always, but some like to work anonymously.

Our position is that whatever an author wants is fine, but you should be well informed before deciding and should make such decisions for yourself. And that starts with keeping rights.

Today, in the Internet age, many creators must choose between trying to commercialize their work in traditional ways, or trying to maximize exposure, likely without direct compensation, though possibly with the goal of achieving fame or future compensation.

We don’t claim that one choice is better than another: it all depends on what you want, or on the work in question. But each choice can lead to different kinds of copyright management. So it’s important to think through your goals for the work, and to ensure that the choice you make will achieve those goals.

So, what are your goals?

  • Non-Commercial, Free Distribution On the Internet: You just want people to read/see/hear your work, and you don't care much about getting paid. Maybe you want to control what others do with your work, maybe you don’t. You might want to distribute your work yourself (for example, over the Internet).

  • Non-Commercial, With Intermediary Distributors: You're primarily interested in exposure for your work, but you need a distributor—often a commercial entity like a publishing company. Even if you don't expect your work to generate revenue (for you), you may want to make sure you can “recycle” your work in revised or updated versions, or to make nonprofit educational uses of your work. Academics usually fall into this category, as do many independent consultants and others who create works but do not expect to profit from them. These creators often use professional intermediaries, such as journal publishers, to distribute their works because the intermediary’s intervention confers credibility and/or prestige.

  • Commercial: You're a professional creator who makes a living off your creative works. You want to be paid for granting rights, but you may also want to hold onto as many rights as you can in order to maximize the returns from different ways of exploiting your work. You may have to deal with commercial distributors whose interests may differ from yours, especially as time passes and new media lead to new ways of exploiting works.

Getting Your Rights Back →