Copyright Ownership in Derivative Works

Under U.S. Copyright law, “derivative works” are creative works based on a pre-existing work (either copyrighted or in the public domain) which incorporates elements of the original along with new elements, concepts, or ideas. Sequels, unrelated works based in a pre-existing created world, film scripts, and radio plays are all examples of derivative works.  The copyright owner of the original work has the exclusive, discretionary right to create or authorize derivative works. Unlicensed derivative works made during the copyright term of the original–including fanfic–are copyright infringement. Many people are surprised to learn that fanfic which simply copies the characters and situations from someone else’s copyrighted work is copyright infringement, because so

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