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Copyright Law Explained

Transfer Copyright Ownership

There are many instruments and ways that creators may transfer copyright ownership to another party. Rights can be transferred by assignment, mortgage, exclusive or nonexclusive license, any other type of conveyance, or operation of law. Copyrights also may be bequeathed by will in whole or in part and may pass as personal property by applicable laws of intestate succession.

The exclusive rights granted by copyright may also be transferred:

  • to Numerous Persons: Copyright ownership may be transferred to one or more persons.
  • in Whole or in Part: The whole copyright in a work can be transferred in its entirety or the exclusive rights can be split up and transferred separately. Each right can also be further divided (for example, the copyright owner can grant a license to one company to distribute a movie in one region and another company to distribute in a different region)
  • by Exclusive or Nonexclusive License: The exclusive rights of a copyright owner may be licensed on an exclusive basis (i.e., copyright ownership in one or more rights is transferred by the copyright owner) or on a nonexclusive basis (i.e., the copyright owner retains ownership of the copyright and may grant similar licenses to others).

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