Definition: Derivative Works
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 work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications, which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a “derivative work”. (Copyright Law of the United States, Art. 1)
In copyright law, the term “derivative works” refers to the translations, adaptations, arrangements and similar alterations of preexisting works which are protected under Article 2(3) of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1971) as such without prejudice to the copyright in the preexisting works. Sometimes, the term is used with a broader meaning, extending to the compilations/collections of works protected under Article 2(5) of the Convention, (as well a under Article 10.2 of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, 1994 (the TRIPS Agreement), and Article 5 of the WIPO Copyright Treaty, 1996 (WCT)). (WIPO Guide to the Copyright and Related Right Treaties Administered by WIPO and Glossary of Copyright and Related Rights Terms, WIPO.)
In this sense, a “derivative work” includes compilations of data or other material, whether in machine-readable or other form, which, by reason of the selection or arrangement of their contents, constitute intellectual creations. (Art. 2(5) Berne Convention, Art. 10(2) TRIPS Agreement, Art. 6 World Copyright Treaty.)
Some jurisdictions have adapted the definition of derivative works in the field of traditional cultural expressions. According to the Pacific Regional Framework for the Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Expressions of Culture (2002), the term refers to any intellectual creation or innovation based upon or derived from traditional knowledge or expressions of culture. (Pacific Regional Framework for the Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Expressions of Culture, 2002, Part I. 4.
EU Public License (2007)
Derivative Works: the works or software that could be created by the Licensee, based upon the Original Work or modifications thereof. This Licence does not define the extent of modification or dependence on the Original Work required in order to classify a work as a Derivative Work; this extent is determined by copyright law applicable in the country mentioned in Article 15.
EU GREEN PAPER
Copyright in the Knowledge Economy (COM 2008/466-3)