Is inherited class a derivative work?

Forrest J. Cavalier III mibsoft at
Mon Oct 15 11:43:42 UTC 2001

"Michael Beck" <mbeck1 at> wrote:

> Derived class is a "derivative work", because it is "based" on, or "extends",
> the original class. "Using" would be instantiating an object from it -
> stand-alone, or as a part of another class (composition). There would be no
> "adaptation" of the existing class.
> According to Copyright law, a derivative work is "a work based upon one or more
> preexisting works". It includes any "form on which a work may be recast,
> transformed, or adapted." (17 USC Sec. 101).

I think the issues that were raised in this thread are not
totally tested or settled in case law.  

You might want to check the list archives for related discussion.
I recall one thread had the subject "Copyrightable APIs"

There are distinct types of works discussed in this
thread, which I think that is causing some confusion.

Instead of asking whether an "inherited class is a
derivative work", it may be more meaningful ask
about one or more of the following items specifically.

   - The base class API (the set of functions and their parameter 
   - The derived class API
   - The base class implementation source
   - The base class executable version
   - The derived class implementation source
   - The derived class executable version

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