From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
In copyright law, a work that is a variation of an original work sufficiently similar to contain protected elements of the original work, but sufficiently different to qualify for copyright protection independent of the original work.
In United States copyright law, a derivative work is an expressive creation that includes major, copyright-protected elements of an original, previously created first work (the underlying work).
Under United States copyright law, 17 U.S.C. § 101, a derivative work is defined to include "a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted" as well as a "work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship".
Since many films are based on novels or scripts they are classed as derivative works. In cases where the film's copyright has lapsed but the original work is still covered the film cannot be freely distributed without the permission of the original author on which it was based. For example, the 1912 George Bernard Shaw play Pygmalion was made into a film of the same name in 1938. The film's protection had lapsed and it was thus released into public domain, but that of the original play was retained. After a third party released prints of the film they were challenged by the copyright-holders of the play, with a court ruling that releasing the prints was a copyright infringement.
- Copyright Act of 1976
- Copyright aspects of hyperlinking and framing
- Galoob v. Nintendo
- Intellectual property
- Threshold of originality
- Trade secret
- Work for hire
- Creative Commons