• I have taken two not my distinct works, work A and work B.
  • Then, I created work C by redefining concepts from work A.
  • Then, I created work D by renaming and redefining concepts from work B.
  • Finally, I created work E that connects work C and work D, and also adds tons of my own concepts.

Is work E derivative work?

What does that do for me if the answer is yes? Can I claim it as my own work, can I distribute it, can I profit from it?

  • Who created works A and B? Not you? How much does E resemble or borrow from A and B? Feb 22 '18 at 16:19
  • Works A and B are not my works, I have updated it.
    – AW10
    Feb 22 '18 at 18:41
  • Also, work C kept the structure, work D is beyond recognition.
    – AW10
    Feb 22 '18 at 19:02
  • Well, if it comes down to it, a jury will determine if work E is really beyond recognition from the original works and if it is a derivative work from A and B. Feb 22 '18 at 19:03

The original creator of a work hold the copyright, which means that can distribute, authorize distribution, profit from and create or authorize the creation of derivative works. If you are the only creator involved in the end product, you may do whatever you want with it. The problem arises when you copy someone elses work. If Jones wrote A and B and you glued them together into a third work, you need permission from Jones to do that – the answer to "what can I do?" is implicit in your copyright assignment / license agreement. If you did not get permission, you crossed a legal line and your lawyer can advise you how to dig yourself out.

However, it also matters in what way you "took" works A and B, and what you mean by "redefine concepts". For example, if works A and B present certain ideas and you say "Aha, I can solve this if I just redefine L and M", and write a new paper based on the ideas of A and B. Ideas are not protected by copyright, so the relevant distinction is whether you copied and modified the ideas, or the expression of the ideas (the latter being protected by copyright).

Every work past A and B is a derivative work, given your description. If you rewrite a chapter enough times, it may not pass the threshold of substantial similarity, but if C is infringing, you would be liable w.r.t. that work, and possible for D as well, even if E is sufficiently different.

  • I get it, I am fine as long as I took an idea instead of actualization of an idea, and I think that is the case here, since I took idea of conceptualizing human's cognitive processes (work A) and social behavior (work B); where I changed the definition of the terms (work C) and also the terms itself (work D).
    – AW10
    Feb 22 '18 at 18:55

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