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Can you transfer a copyright?

Say you create some sort of artistic work, like a novel or a book of poems, and then you decide that you do not want to have full control of it anymore. Perhaps someone else came up to you and made an offer to buy it if they would then be allowed to use it and sell it.

You want to take that offer, but you already copyrighted the work in your own name. What can you do to make it legal for someone else to use it and profit off of it?

The key is to transfer that copyright to the other person, which you can do. You want to have an official contract in place that defines both of your rights and that lays out the details of the transfer -- how much you should be paid and when the transfer officially takes place, for instance.

But what if you change your mind and want control back in the future? You can get it, and one option is to terminate the transfer. However, that can take decades -- 28 to 56 years, in many cases. You could also work out a deal with that other party to transfer the copyright back to you if they agreed to do so.

It is very important to understand the specifics of how copyright laws work. You don't want to make any mistakes that accidentally leave your work open for theft, and you also do not want to violate someone else's rights if you do not own the material any longer. Be sure you know exactly what legal steps to take and how to proceed.

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