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A derivative work is 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.

A “derivative work” is work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications that, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship. The copyright in a derivative work covers only the additions, changes, or other new material appearing for the first time in the work. The copyright obtained in a derivative work does not extend to any preexisting material and does not imply a copyright in that material and does not extend the length of protection for a copyrighted work. In any case where a protected work is used unlawfully copyright will not be extended to the illegally used part.

A work that has fallen in the public domain, that is, which is no longer protected by copyright, may be used for a derivative work, but the copyright in the derivative work will not restore the copyright of the public domain material. A copyright in a derivative work for a public domain work does not prevent anyone else from using the same public domain work for another derivative work.

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