Is inherited class a derivative work?

Michael Beck mbeck1 at
Mon Oct 22 01:08:47 UTC 2001

> -----Original Message-----
> From: email at
> Sent: Friday, October 19, 2001 00:06

> you are attempting to excercise a right that Copyright Law
> does not grant you.
> you are using words that have double meanings that are
> separate and distinct
> in their two fields, i.e.  "derived"
> copyright law : "Derived work"
> 	a translation into another language
> 	adaptation into a screenplay
> 	a sequel to a book,
> 	the CONTENT of teh original is in the DERIVED work
> 	in a different form.   yada yada
> software engineering: "Derived class"
> 	A work, separate in CONTENT from it's base class ,
> 	but overlapping in USE and FUNCTION.

Can you point me to a legal paper or court ruling explaining "derived class"
this way?

I am afraid, you are mixing "class", and "interface" concepts here. Class is a
"design blueprint", similar in its function to "chip design" or "architectural
design", and as such it's protected by copyright. You cannot derive a design and
claim it as legal, regardless of the mechanism you have used. However, you can
take "interface" or API, and create your own "blueprint" out of it.

>  copyright does not cover the USE or FUNCTION of a work.
> patent law might, I'm not sure, but copyright does not.
> The USE of a work is granted wholly to the user.
> the Author is not granted any rights to control USE by copyright law.

The Author still holds the copyright to the design. So yes, you can use it, but
you are not allowed to modify the design and publish it without a permission.

> It's outside the realm of copyright law,
> and it's outside the spirit of open source.

I think, it's quite the opposite - the spirit of open source is to share the
code and the improvements back to the community. Were would be Linux or Apache
today, if the improvements wouldn't go back to them?


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