I wanted to share this post with you, from a lawyer friend of mine.
Although written for creative small business folks, the basic principles apply.
Ownership of intellectual property (in the form of a trademark, a copyright or a patent—more about those in posts to come) is the jar of markers. The jar itself and all the markers in the jar.
I like to explain intellectual property as a jar of markers.
The jar is the constant container of ownership.
The markers are specific rights.
You can offer the markers (rights) individually or in groups to any other person or business for any purpose for which you would like to make the intellectual property available.
In the post she outlines what some of those rights are.
When a publisher asks you to assign copyright to them as a condition of publishing in a journal, it is some of these specific rights to which they refer. You are only assigning some rights perhaps for a specified period of time.
Similarly, when you publish under a Creative Commons License, you are assigning some of the specific rights to unknown users with specified limitations on those uses. You get to decide which ones. That’s why there are several types of CC licenses.