Copyright Reversion and the Author's Interest Project, 2020

4 Pages Posted: 22 Jan 2021

See all articles by Rebecca Giblin

Rebecca Giblin

University of Melbourne - Law School

Joshua Yuvaraj

University of Auckland - Faculty of Law

Date Written: September 6, 2020


Book authors are (almost always) the first owners of their copyrights. They typically license or transfer their rights to publishers to get their books to market. Reversion refers to the return of those rights to authors - for example, where a book has gone out of print, where rights aren't being exploited, or after a certain period of time. More than half of the world's nations grant authors statutory reversion rights. But many of these laws were developed in the pre-digital era and have become outdated. In some countries (including Australia and the UK) authors have no mandated rights at all, just whatever is left to them by their publishing contracts.

In this pamphlet, we summarize the results of our research examining over 60 years of such contracts, which finds that the contract-based approach is simply inadequate.

Modern, effective reversion rights have huge potential to help solve the biggest problems facing copyright. By updating existing laws and filling these gaps, we can do much to improve author incomes, create new investment opportunities for publishers, and improve public access to our cultural heritage.

Keywords: copyright, reversion, authors, creators, rights, termination

JEL Classification: K10

Suggested Citation

Giblin, Rebecca and Yuvaraj, Joshua, Copyright Reversion and the Author's Interest Project (September 6, 2020)., 2020, Available at SSRN:

Rebecca Giblin (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne - Law School ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010

Joshua Yuvaraj

University of Auckland - Faculty of Law ( email )

Private Bag 92019
Auckland Mail Centre
Auckland, 1142
New Zealand

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics