Is inherited class a derivative work?

David Johnson david at
Sat Oct 13 20:40:26 UTC 2001

On Saturday 13 October 2001 03:54 am, Michael Beck wrote:
> We have a discussion going on internally about inheritance. Some people
> believe that when you subclass/inherit/derive a new class, you are creating
> a "derivative work" in the copyright sense, especially when you override
> existing methods. Others believe that "inheritance is delegation of
> implementation and aggregation of interface", and therefore it is NOT a
> derivative work.

IANAL adnausem adinfinitum...

A derivative work must contain at least portions of the original work. 
Dependency alone does not constitute derivation.

However, creating an application that uses that subclass could very possibly 
be a derivative work of the base class. It all depends upon how you build the 
application. If you statically link to the base class, then yes, you have 
created a derivative work. If you use runtime linkage, then no it is not. If 
you dynamically link then you enter into the realm of controversy.

David Johnson
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