People often use the terms "author rights" and "literary rights" to mean copyrights. Copyrights are legal rights that attach to certain types of intellectual property. Copyrights are granted under federal law to authors of creative works at the time of the work's creation in a fixed, tangible form. Authors do not have to apply for or file a copyright.
Section 106 of the Copyright Act states that only the owner of a copyright has the authority to use the work in one of six ways (examples of each provided as bullet points):
NOTE: Authors are typically asked to sign legally binding contracts such as a publication agreement or a copyright transfer agreement (both legally binding contracts) usually transferring ownership of copyright to the publisher who then determines how you may use your own work. By transferring your rights to a publisher, you will lose some or all of the above rights. This guide provides background information and tools necessary to retain the rights you need to reuse your work.