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Q.What is a Deriivative Work?

A.A derivative work is a work that is based on, or incorporates, one or more already preexisting original works of authorship. For example, a multi-media work would be a derivative work if it used preexisting original copyrighted elements. Similarly, a screenplay adapted from book woiuld be a derivative work.

For a derivative work to be copyrightable, the derivative work must contain enough elements of originality (new material) to qualify as a new work. The copyright holder in a derivative work will only obtain a copyright interest in the new original contribution, not the underlying, preexisting elements (which must be identified on the copyright application).

It is very important to note that only the copyright owner of the underlying work, or one who has been granted permission (written license) from the original copyright owner, may prepare derivative works. Unauthorized derivative works violate the original copyright holder's exclusive rights under the copyright act.

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