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Subsidiary Rights


Subsidiary rights, in financial terms, refer to the rights that the owner of a creative work, such as a book or screenplay, can sell to others. These rights might include the ability to reproduce the work in different forms, such as foreign language editions, audiobooks, e-books, or film adaptations. Essentially, they enable the owner to further monetize the original work in various markets or formats.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Subsidiary Rights” is:sʌbˈsɪdiˌɛri raɪts

Key Takeaways

  1. Subsidiary Rights Diversify Revenue: Subsidiary rights, which include rights like merchandising, stage adaptations, sequels, and foreign rights, allow authors and publishers to diversify their revenue sources. These rights enable them to earn money beyond the initial sale of the book.
  2. Negotiation is Crucial: Subsidiary rights are typically negotiated between the author and the publisher during the contract stage. It’s important for authors to understand these rights and negotiate a fair deal, as they can significantly impact overall earnings from a book.
  3. Expands Book’s Reach: Subsidiary rights are a key aspect of expanding a book’s reach. By securing rights for translations, audio versions, and other adaptations, publishers can help make the book accessible to different audiences and in different formats worldwide. Therefore, it extends the book’s visibility and potential earnings.


Subsidiary Rights play a significant role in business and finance, particularly in industries such as publishing and media where they govern the dispersion and usage of intellectual properties. They refer to the rights held by a creator or distributor to produce or distribute a product in different formats or markets. They are essential as they allow for the exploitation of a single product in multiple ways, which can result in additional revenue streams. This can include rights for translations, audiobooks, merchandise, movie adaptations, sequels, and so forth. Therefore, Subsidiary Rights can significantly impact a company’s profitability and overall success.


Subsidiary rights, in the context of finance and business, play a significant role in maximizing an entity’s profit margin by permitting supplementary usage of a creative property. They are the rights held by the original owner of a work (often the author or creator) to reproduce the work in different formats or languages, or to distribute and sell to different territories or mediums; this could include film, television, audio, theatrical adaptations, foreign editions, and more. Essentially, these rights provide the ability to monetize a product or creation beyond its original purpose or primary market, opening up a multitude of secondary revenue streams.By retaining or selling these rights, creators or businesses can gain further financial and strategic advantage. For example, a author might sell the book rights to a publisher, but retain the film rights should a movie studio wish to adapt the book into a film in the future. Or, if the author sells these rights to the publisher, they might arrange for a cut of the profits from any successful adaptations. In a global marketplace, subsidiary rights can be an effective tool for businesses and creators to fully monetize their creations and widen their audience reach, adding a component of business diversification in their operations.


Subsidiary rights in business/finance typically refer to the rights to produce or distribute a product or service in a certain way, often owned by an author or creator but leased or sold to another party. They can play a significant role in various industries, like book publishing, film, and music. Here are three real-world examples.1. Book Publishing: A prominent real-world example of subsidiary rights is in the book publishing industry. For example, J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, sold the rights to her books to Bloomsbury Publishing in the UK and Scholastic Corporation in the US. In addition to the original books, these companies were able to sell rights for translations, audio books, eBooks and specific territorial distributions, each constituting subsidiary rights.2. Film Industry: Another common example is in the film industry. If a movie studio like Warner Bros. acquires the rights to a novel, that novel’s author may still hold certain subsidiary rights. For instance, the author might retain merchandising rights, selling products such as t-shirts or action figures based on characters from the book. The studio may only secure the rights to produce the film, not the associated products.3. Music Industry: Similarly, in the music industry, a song’s copyrights might be owned by the songwriter, but they might sign a deal with a record label for the recording rights, performance rights or syncing rights. The record label could then make money from a band recording a cover of the song or the song being used in a commercial or movie, each of these would be a usage of subsidiary rights.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What are Subsidiary Rights?

Subsidiary rights refer to the rights held by the creator or owner of a copyrighted work to produce secondary products or services derived from the original copyrighted work. These may include things like book translations, movie editions, merchandising rights, or audio recordings.

Who holds Subsidiary Rights?

Subsidiary Rights are usually held by the creator or original owner of the work. However, these rights can also be sold, licensed, or otherwise transferred to another party.

What is the importance of Subsidiary Rights in the business world?

Subsidiary Rights allow businesses to broaden their market and increase their revenue streams by creating and selling secondary products or services based on the original copyrighted work.

Can Subsidiary Rights be split up?

Yes. It is actually commonplace to split subsidiary rights. An author, for example, can sell the paperback rights to one publisher, the audiobook rights to another, and the film rights to a movie studio.

How are Subsidiary Rights valued?

The value of subsidiary rights depends on several factors including the success and popularity of the original work, the potential market for the derivative products or services, and the terms of any licensing or selling agreements.

How are Subsidiary Rights sold or licensed?

Subsidiary Rights can be sold or licensed through agreements or contracts. These detail the terms and conditions of the sale or license – for example, who can produce the derivative products, where they can be sold, and how the original owner will be compensated.

What happens when Subsidiary Rights expire?

When Subsidiary Rights expire, the rights revert back to the original owner, who can then choose to renew the contract or sell or license the rights to a different party.

Related Finance Terms

  • Copyright
  • Licensing Rights
  • Territorial Rights
  • Translation Rights
  • Digital Rights (Ebook Rights)

Sources for More Information

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