Hello there. I hope this is not a completely basic question, but I could not find the answer anywhere else.

I have written content that a company wants to publish. We have signed a contract that grants them exclusive publishing/distribution rights for a certain amount of time.

So does the copyright notice in the book then state:

Copyright 2015 (my name)


Copyright 2015 (the company's name)?

3 Answers 3


The answer will depend on your contract and the laws of your country. If you live in a civilized country*, you will own the copyright to your work as long as you live and it cannot be transferred except by death to you heirs; you can only transfer usage rights. If you live in Great Britain or the USA, your company owns the copyright if you transfer the copyright to them by contract.

* Sorry for the jibe, dear Americans, but the exploitative copyright laws of your country have spawned so many famous copyright court cases that I feel that in this respect "uncivilized" is a fitting description.


The biggest question is "was it work for hire" (in which case it's the same as writing a memo at work -- the workplace/publisher owns it), or another deal? This may be something only that publisher (and your contract with it) may be able to answer directly.


In your name.

You hold the copyright to everything you create (with the exception of work for hire, as April points out) unless you expressly sell or transfer the copyright to another party or place it in the public domain (or if you are dead and enough time has passed).

Say someone reads your content and wants to republish it. Who do they negotiate with? The answer is you. You must honor the terms of your recent contract but you, and only you, get to set the terms of an additional one.

The company you signed the contract with in your question did not purchase a copyright transfer. They purchased the rights to publish your work along with a promise from you that you will not allow anyone else to publish it within a set period of time.

It is possible that your contract states a total transfer of copyright for X amount of time, after which all rights revert to you. But that will be explicit in your contract and is not the default. The contract may also mention how to attribute. Read it carefully.

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