Have you ever wondered how people use part of an existing story, or picture to create something new and not get sued by the original owner? Your “new” or “original” work build off an existing work is called a derivative work.
Derivative WorkA derivative work is a work based on or derived from one more works that already exist. Common derivative works include the following: translations, musical arrangements, motion pictures, art reproductions, abridgments, and condensations of preexisting works. Other types of derivative works is a “new edition” of a preexisting work in which the editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications represent, as a whole, an original work.
In order for the derivative work to be copyrightable it must incorporate some or all of a preexisting work and add new original copyrightable authorship to that work. A derivative work can also be referred to as an adaption right. There are many different types of derivative works including: · A motion picture based on a play or novel · A translation of an novel written in English into another language· A revision of a previously published book · A sculpture based on a drawing · A drawing based on a photograph · A lithograph based on a painting · A drama about John Doe based on the letters and journal entries of John Doe · A musical arrangement of a preexisting musical work · A new version of an existing computer program · An adaptation of a dramatic work · A revision of a website
The copyright in a derivative work only covers the changes, additions, or other new material appearing in the work for the first time. Protection does not extend to any of the preexisting material that was previously published or registered works owned by a third party.
RegistrationTo register a derivative work and compilation, the United States Copyright Office will need information regarding the previous registration, limitations of the claim, the material excluded, and a description of the new material added to the derivative work or compilation. Registration is often delayed due to the mistakes or omissions of the applicant. The following categories will need to be completed when filing a derivative work: 1. Author2. Author Created3. Copyright claimant 4. Year of Completion 5. Publication 6. Previous registration 7. Limitation of claim 8. Material excluded 9. New material included
If you are interested in identifying a copyright owner of a preexisting work, you can search the online or physical records of the Copyright Office.