No Permission Needed to Copyright a Derivative Work
By Adrienne Baker – Edited by Ian C. Wildgoose Brown
Schrock v. Learning Curve Int’l, No. 08-1296 (7th Cir. Sep. 9, 2009)
On November 5, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded a decision of the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, which had ruled that copyright for a derivative work requires permission from the underlying copyright holder to be valid. The district court’s ruling was based on reasoning in Gracen v. Bradford Exchange, 698 F.2d 300 (7th Cir. 1983). The Seventh Circuit instead held that a valid copyright in a derivative work is created by “operation of law” and not by authority of the copyright owner in the underlying work, unless a contract dictates otherwise. Additionally, the court held that there is no heightened standard of originality for copyright protection in a derivative work.
The Exclusive Rights Blog provides an overview of the case. Rebecca Tushnet’s 43(B)log criticizes the circuit court for not explicitly overturning Gracen and asserts photographs of copyrighted material should not be treated as derivative works. (more…)