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This is literally the ‘right to copy’ an original work in a particular format. Normally, the author retains moral rights in the work but signs over to the publisher those publication rights whose formats or usage are covered by the author contract (usually full copyright in the work). On the expiry of its copyright protection, a work enters the public domain.

Copyright is very much under attack today for becoming an outmoded way of registering and protecting rights to creative works in the digital age. An alternative ‘copyleft’ movement, Creative Commons, is gaining ground but copyright remains the bedrock of publishing (and all other creative industries) today.

This definition is extracted (and expanded on) from the book Getting Published: A Companion for the Humanities and Social Sciences by Gerald Jackson and Marie Lenstrup.

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