When an author has a copyright over his or her material, this is a personal property right and it indicates the author is the exclusive owner of that material. This gives the owner a legal authority over the work, including the right to distribute it or re-publish it and to give this right away to others to do the same. In cases where a copyright transfer is necessary, a written and signed agreement on the part of the owner is the only way to make this transfer of personal property legal and documented. Because a transfer of copyright can be affected by your local state laws that deal with personal property rights and how they can be established, moved and terminated, transferring a copyright can be somewhat complex, depending on where you are located. It is best to have as much information about this legal process as possible before you embark on a transfer. Here is what you need to know.
When Might a Transfer of Copyright Be Necessary?
One situation in which copyright transfers are commonly necessary is in the case of academic journals. These subscription-based publications generally feature a number of different pieces that are copyrighted by various authors. Therefore, it is important that the journals obtain a transferred copyright from the original author of whatever material they are publishing. The publisher of the journal must obtain written permission – typically in the form of a contract – from the material’s author in order to sell the journal or access to it.
What Do I Need to Know About Making a Copyright Transfer?
Copyright transfers generally take the form of a signed legal contract. However, there is no preexisting form for this process available through the United States Copyright Office. Attorneys can aid you in drawing up a legally binding copyright transfer contract, but the advising of a lawyer is not necessary if you wish to draw up your own agreement.
Here are some key things to remember when considering making a transfer of copyright.
- Copyright transfers can be full or partial, meaning that the individual to whom the copyright is transferred may have complete or incomplete ownership of the material in question.
- Copyright transfers generally don’t involve any payment or exchange of funds.
- If you are looking for an alternative to copyright transfers, you may wish to consider open access or open license publishing.
- Copyright transfers are not considered legally binding unless they are signed by the copyright holder, the author of the material or his/her legal representative agent.
- Since copyright transfers are subject to the variances of state personal property law, it may be necessary to consult an attorney if you have questions that are relevant to your specific state.
- Under current copyright law, copyright transfers may be terminated after a period of 35 years if certain conditions are present.
Do I Need to Make a Legal Record of a Copyright Transfer?
While it is not absolutely necessary to make a legal record of your completed and signed copyright transfer, it is advisable that you go through the United States Copyright Office to record the transfer. This makes the transfer more formal and defensible in the case of legal conflict down the road. If you must later prove your copyright transfer, having your transfer recorded in this manner will give you specific legal advantages.
Any specific inquiries about copyright transfers can be directed to the United States Copyright Office, which does not deal directly with transfers of copyright but is equipped to make legal record of their occurrence. As you navigate the world of copyright transfers, remember that transfers of copyright must be signed and completed before a copyrighted work is legally distributed by a secondary party who is not the original owner of the material. This will protect you from entering into any legal conflicts over issues of material ownership.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.