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Derivative Work Questions

What is derivative work?

According to United States copyright law, derivative work is a type of expressive creation that involves major copyright-protected elements of an original work. This is known as the original previously created first work or underlying work.

If a person has a historical display depicting Independence Hall with interpretations that is purely ones ideas and someone else only switches pieces around with nothing original added to it, would this be copyright infringement?

In most situations yes, this would be considered copyright infringement because it would be work based on and using the person’s work which would be considered derivative work. It may be considered straight infringement and not even considered derivative work because it is not adding anything original. Either way it would still be considered infringement.

Is translations considered to be derivative work and does a person have to get permission to translate the material?

Translations are considered derivative work, but the person would need to gain permission from the original author. Like a movie based on a book would be considered derivative work, and the person would still need to ask permission. The part of the law that the person would need to look at would be section 1062(2).

Is there a way to find out who owns the copyright to a book someone would like to do a derivative work about?

There is not a system in place at this time to find out who owns the copyright to the material. In some cases the information may be found at the copyright office but in most cases it is out of date information. Congress is working on trying to fix this issue and put in place ways for people to find out who owns the copyright to things.

When mixing media considered would this be considered derivative work or does a person have to still get permission?

When a person uses copyrighted material they would still have to gain permission from the owner unless it fits into section 110. Section 110 states; “Limitations on exclusive rights: Exemption of certain performances and displays. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, the following are not infringements of copyright: (3) performance of a non-dramatic literary or musical work or of a dramatic-musical work of a religious nature, or display of a work, in the course of services at a place of worship or other religious assembly.” Therefore if a person is not performing the material in a place of worship or religious assembly, the person would need the copyright approval in writing.

When a person wants to rewrite a book, translate a book, do a show, or make a picture based on someone’s work then this would be considered derivative work. This is a type of copyright law and protects the person that originally wrote the material. The person wanting to add their own ideas into the work or wanting to redo the original, the questions may overwhelm them and they may not what is allowed and what isn’t. If this happens, the person may need to seek the advice of an Expert to proceed with their ideas.

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Recent Derivative Work Questions

  • Can you take a photograph of a third party's dress? Or is that

    Can you take a photograph of a third party's dress? Or is that considered a derivative work of the dress.
  • Copyright Question, Hi, I've created a logo by mashing a few

    Copyright Question, Hi, I've created a logo by mashing a few images together but before using it widely I wanted to make sure that I wont be sued from unexpected places. I'm going to try and attach the logo. It's basically two images found on Google Search
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  • A scientific journal published a paper of my Ph.D. research

    A scientific journal published a paper of my Ph.D. research but allowed the paper to be published by my Ph.D. mentor as the sole author after having received identical papers in the same week - of course my paper included my mentor as a co-author. I assumed that since the mentor was already known to the journal by past publications that they published his paper instead of mine because he had more seniority at the time. They erroneously claimed that they had no methods in place to detect authorship conflicts. I find it hard to believe that they received two identical papers from the same university and laboratory in the same week and had no knowledge of a conflict.
    In any case the university at the time suggested to the mentor that he retract the paper and resubmit it with my name as well as with reference to my prior publication on the subject and my Ph.D. dissertation in the bibliography. He refused...the university did nothing to protect my right to credit for my work....forced the resignation of the tenured full professor.
    I recently spoke to the journal after having learned that my work was cited 140 times by other reputable laboratories. I asked them to discuss their policies and to reopen this case. They told me that if the university would declare scientific misconduct after an institution investigation that they would take action.
    When asked what their current policies are and what action they would take if the university did in fact declare misconduct ...their answer was that they had no idea what the policies were when I first brought this matter to their attention. I assume then that they would be obligated to guide themselves according to current policy...but they refuse to tell me what it is. I also asked them for their definition of scientific misconduct. I explained that I would not wish for the university to reopen this case and do an extensive investigation without knowing in advance what their policies were.
    In any case the journal is beating around the bush and refusing to answer my straightforward questions. What is your definition of scientific misconduct and what actions do you take with regard to published papers that reflect scientific misconduct once the university has established that this is what took place?
    How does one proceed and how can I force the journal to state their policy and definition of misconduct. They clearly do not wish to act with integrity and they see this as a hot potato. I would like to inspire them to act properly but I am not sure what I can do.
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