Glossary created by Berkman Center team

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Formally obtaining copyright protections for a creative work by notifying the copyright office that it exists.

In U.S. copyright law, although a creative work receives copyright at the moment it is fixed in a tangible form, a copyright holder cannot file suit against an alleged infringer without officially registering the work with the copyright office.

The Berne Convention does not require registration, or any other official formalities.

See also:

  • Formalities

Other resources:


What a court grants a rightsholder who has won an infringement lawsuit.

When a copyright lawsuit is resolved in favor of the rightsholder, a court will then grant them relief -- relief from the harm which they have suffered as a result of the infringement


Injunctive relief occurs when a court issues an injunction or a restraining order against an infringer.

The injunction might order that infringing content be removed from display, or that extant illegal copies be collected and destroyed, or whatever measures the court finds appropriate.


Statutory relief is relief according whatever provisions for relief exist explicitly in statute.

These could include damage awards, criminal punishment or more.

Religious Legal System

A religious legal system is one where the law is based on the tenets of a particular religion.

Some religious legal systems exist on their own, while some exist in conjunction with another legal system. Sharia, the system of religiously inspired Islamic law, is an example of a religious legal system, as are Hindu law and Halakha or Jewish law.

See also:

  • Common Law
  • Civil Law

Other resources:


The rights a creator, copyright holder, the public or member of the public has as a result of copyright.

Copyright grants its holder various exclusive rights as part of its limited time monopoly. These rights can be usefully divided into economic rights and moral rights. In addition, as part of the copyright “bargain” the public gains certain rights in a copyrighted work as well. A list of these rights follows.

Right of Integrity

The right to prevent the destruction or defacement of a creative work, or to object to any changes made to a creative work

Most often seen in the context of a painting or sculpture. For example, the rights to a piece of art on display.

Right of Attribution

The right to be known as the creator of a particular creative work, to be given appropriate credit for one’s creations, and not to be blamed for things one did not create.

Right of Disclosure

The right to determine when and if a work shall be made public.

Right of Reproduction

The right to make copies of a work.

Right of Adaptation

The right to make derivative works.

Right of Distribution

The right to sell, export or import a work or copies of a work.

Right of Public Performance and Display

The right to perform or display a work in public.

Right of Withdrawal

The right to withdraw a work from the public sphere.

Most commonly seen with artworks of which only a single copy exists but also sometimes seen as a right to purchase extant copies of a creative work at a reduced rate. For example, a book a writer no longer wants on the market.

Right of Access

The right of the public to have access to a published copyrighted work.

This particular right is actually not a right of the copyright holder, but rather of the public. In return for granting the creator the various copyrights, arguably at the expense of the public, the public gains access to the work.

Other resources:

Rome Convention

The Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organisations

The Rome Convention is an international copyright agreement specifically addressing the rights of three groups. These groups are: performers, the producers of sound recordings, and the broadcasters of broadcasts, all of whom receive protection for their efforts, especially against acts to which they have not consented, like being recorded. First done in 1961, the convention attempts to offer specific protection for creative work that might otherwise not qualify for copyright, usually because of its transitory nature.

See also:

  • Neighboring Rights

Other resources: