‘Author’s rights’ concerns the ability of the author of a work to transfer or retain (full or partial) rights that influence how their work is disseminated.
Many first-time authors are not aware that if they chose to publish in a traditional subscription journal, they are almost always required to transfer some, or all, of their copyrights for that work to the publisher. Authors should know that they can decide and exercise which rights they want to keep, and which to transfer to the publisher. There are organizations that help advocate for these author’s rights:
SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) is an international community of research and academic libraries that focuses “on taking action in collaboration with stakeholders – including authors, publishers, and libraries – to build on the unprecedented opportunities created by the networked digital environment to advance the conduct of scholarship.”
SPARC offers invaluable materials that educate authors about their rights, and also makes available an ‘Author Addendum’ that is an actual legal instrument that allows an author to select certain copyrights to retain.
Another organization offering advice and support for author’s rights is the Boston Library Consortium, which provides institutions in New England (and beyond) with amendments and agreements to copyright licenses. These can be downloaded from their website: Boston Library Consortium Author’s Rights
See also, the definition of ‘authors’ rights’ given in Wikipedia.