Is inherited class a derivative work?

Michael Beck mbeck1 at
Wed Oct 24 09:55:51 UTC 2001

> -----Original Message-----
> From: angelo.schneider at
> Sent: Monday, October 22, 2001 02:26

> For copyright law is only one thing interesting:
> If you look at the piece of "derived work", can you still see the
> original work?

I would argue that it is sufficient that the original class "assumes a concrete
or permanent form" in the derived class by referencing to it. See:

If I compare the inherited class against the above case (in a biased way <g>), I
could argue that:

The user has a compiler [engine] and the code for the original class [source art
library]. You create the MAP file [inherited class] referencing the original
class [source art library], and deliver it to the user. The user runs the
compiler [engine] which creates the object file [visual display] containing the
elements of the original class [source art library].

If this comparison is valid, then according to the ruling, you have created a
"derivative work".

Further, the "fair use" wouldn't apply here, because according to the ruling,
the inherited class "impinged on [my] ability to market new versions" of my
classes. The fact that I published them as OpenSource doesn't take away the
possibility that I could sell the code to a client (similarly to

> Several posters pointed out: in case of inheritance you can't. As the
> name of the class you inherit from may poin to totaly
> different files at the moment you compile.

I believe that this has only impact on identifying from "which" class is the
derivative work coming from, and whether you had a permission to derive a class.
But it doesn't change the fact whether it is a "derivative work".

Assuming that you have a permission to create a derived class, at compile time
you probably can substitute the original class only with those classes that you
have a permission to create derived classes from. But that's only my guess.


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