As discussed above, copyright owners may exploit their works in a number of ways. They may wish to exploit the works themselves by reproducing, publishing, performing, communicating or making adaptations of their works.

Alternatively, a copyright owner may grant permission to someone else to exploit their works. This may be done by selling (otherwise known as assigning) or licensing copyright in their works to a third party. It is recommended that any agreement for permitting copyright use should be in writing. Rights may be limited in three ways: purpose, duration and geographic area of use.