Is inherited class a derivative work?

Michael Beck mbeck1 at
Thu Oct 25 10:21:36 UTC 2001

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Lawrence E. Rosen
> Sent: Wednesday, October 24, 2001 12:12

> Do you think the ruling in the Micro Star case would have come down
> differently had it not been a copyright case involving a fictional
> storyline included in a game?  Since what was copied in that case were
> the story characters and their human-like activities, can we
> distinguish
> it from cases where what is copied is factual information?

The court references as "factual work" telephone listings (and the case United
Tel. Co. v Johnson Publ'g Co.). Do you believe that generally a class should be
seen as equivalent to a telephone listing? Are there any cases were classes (or
something equivalent to classes) were declared as "factual work"? Right now I am
using the Copyright Law definition of "literary work".

> Would the
> ruling have been different if what was copied were the unprotectable
> elements of the work, such as the non-expressive aspects of the APIs?

I don't think that anything was copied here - the visual elements were
referenced in the MAP files, and these references were then used by the engine
in building the visual displays.

> And referring to the Micro Star court's analysis of the fair use
> factors, can we conclude that, because class inheritance does
> not affect
> in any way the market for or sales of the inherited class,
> that the fair
> use factors fall on the side of allowing inheritance without
> infringement?

I am not sure that I understand your statement: "class inheritance does not
affect in any way the market for or sales of the inherited class." If I create &
market a SuperCoolGrid class, and you create a derived EvenMoreSuperCoolGrid
class and market it (or publish it for free), it effects the market for my
future versions (or sequels) to my original grid. As stated by the court, you
would "impinged on [FormGen's ] ability to market new versions of the story",
here new versions of my grid. Further - "Only FormGen has the right to enter
that market; whether it chooses to do so is entirely its business."

But the above impacts only the "fair use" issue, and it doesn't change the fact
that the MAP files were declared as "derivative work."

And for me the only interesting aspect from this case is the fact that MAP files
were declared as "derivative work."


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