Derivative Works, Original Value

Philosophy in the Contemporary World 19 (1):44-55 (2012)
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Many arguments offered by the free culture movement emphasize the ways in which new works rely on works, which have gone before, the discoveries and data of other scientists, and a general stock of common knowledge. An exammation of the ways in which old works mform new works will show that drawmg on previous works is a necessary and inevitable part of the act of creation. Despite the negative connotations surrounding the label "derivative," all works are, in an important sense, derivative, and must be so in order to be recognized as novel and creative. As such, there should be greater freedom in the creation and circulation of derivative works. Under the current intellectual property regime, the creation of derivative works can be controlled at the discretion of the author. Therefore, any system of intellectual property rights must preserve the ability of creators to draw on previous works, including the ability to employ significant elements of protected works in their own creations.



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Michael Falgoust
Tulane University (PhD)

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