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What rights does a copyright owner have?

Copyright owners have the sole legal right to:

  • produce or reproduce the work
  • perform the work in public
  • publish the work
  • translate the work
  • adapt the work to another format (e.g. novel to film, film to play)
  • record a literary, dramatic or musical work
  • broadcast the work
  • exhibit an artistic work
  • rent out a computer program, or a recording of a musical work
  • sell a work in the form of a tangible object (in certain circumstances)
  • authorize others to do any of these acts

A copyright owner can license any or all of these rights to another entity (individual or organization) temporarily, or assign them to another entity permanently.

These rights are qualified by certain exceptions which balance the copyright owner’s interests with the public interest in allowing use of works for purposes such as education and research, such as fair dealing.