Landman Library

Uses of Copyrighted Works

Works that use previously copyrighted works in part or whole can take two forms, one that requires copyright permission to be obtained, one that does not.

Derivative Works

  • Derivative works require the permission of the copyright holder to create.
  • Taking original, copyrighted work like pictures and music and reusing it with just small changes* even with attribution of the original author could be considered making a derivative work. Doing this without the permission of the copyright holder could be considered copyright infringement and leave the new author vulnerable to a lawsuit.
  • Go to Copyright in Derivative Works and Compilations to read the U.S. Copyright Office’s definitive take on what derivative works are. This PDF was written for the general public and is both easily understandable and thorough.

*This is also plagiarism. Read more about the difference.

Transformative Works

  • Transformative works do Not require the permission of the copyright holder to create.
  • Taking original, copyrighted work like pictures and music and repurposing it or giving it new meaning could be considered making a transformative work. It could be justified under the Fair Use provision of Copyright Law. Doing this without the permission of the copyright holder may Not be considered copyright infringement.
  • Go to Fair Use: What is Transformative? to learn more (NOLO: Law for All).