Reversionary Rights

As part of our mission to create tools that empower authors to manage their copyrights on their terms, CC stewards a reversionary rights project. This project spans the entire organization and impacts our policy, advocacy and educational work. But centrally, it focuses at present on the creation of tools that enable authors to reclaim their copyrights in their works so they can share them on their own terms, including through application of a Creative Commons license or CC0.

Our Reversionary Rights Projects

Educating authors about whether and when they have a right to reclaim their copyrights in a particular country is the current focal point of our project. In 2017, Creative Commons published the Termination of Transfer tool (the “ToT tool”). This calculator allows authors whose publication agreements are governed by U.S. law to determine hypothetically whether they have rights under the law to insist that a publisher to whom they previously assigned their rights must give them back. Co-stewarded by Authors Alliance and Creative Commons, this project launched in late 2017. The website provides a calculator that asks questions relevant to a determination, and provides other educational resources for authors. Those resources include an FAQ, model reversionary rights letters, and more. See https://www.rightsback.org for more information.

Internationally, CC has embarked on an ambitious project to aggregate information about reversionary rights around the world. This is because laws vary dramatically from country to country. Adjusting the calculator created for U.S. law for the laws of other countries is not possible.  However, through our network of international legal experts around the world, CC has created, curated and now maintains a database of reversionary rights laws, proposals and caselaw from around the world. Still in its infancy, the database painted at Reversionary Rights Resource is intended to apprise authors of laws that may allow them to insist on the reversion of at least some of their rights under copyright.

The Reversionary Rights Resource remains in beta, but will be moved to a permanent home in Quarter 3 of 2018. This is a community resource, and CC depends on the expertise of its global network to dedicate time to helping us make it the most robust and accurate tool possible. Already, more than a half-dozen contributions have been made regarding laws in both the global north and south. Please contribute here, or contact us at info@creativecommons.org if you want more information about how to help with this important effort.

The Reversionary Rights Resource, along with the ToT tool, has been generously funded by Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.