The author of a creative work owns the copyright to that work and has full rights to print, distribute, perform, or circulate their work as they see fit. Authors can give certain rights to publishers, so that publishers can print and distribute their work. However, in many traditional publishing models, the author signs over most, if not all of their copyrights which can hamper their ability share their work with friends and colleagues, build upon the work for future projects, or use the work as part of their teaching curriculum.
There are several ways to protect your rights as an author when submitting work for publishing or distribution. Authors can licensing agreements or add addendums to publishing agreements to ensure they retain certain rights.