Is an altered design a ‘derivative work’?

In the fashion industry, the design procress from the design concept to the actual production takes a reasonable amount of time. Most fashion designers make critical research before producing any design. A lot of designers basically work on vintage designs or other designers design and give the design a unique alteration.

The question now is, will a designer be able to get a copyright protection if the altered design is seen as a derivative work under the law? Copyright law protects original creative works. Exclusive rights are provided for the creator of original works; rights to produce the work, rights to distribute the work, rights to display the work and rights to prepare ‘derivative works’ based upon the original work.

A derivative work is a new, original product that includes pre-existing, already copyrighted work. This type of work is often debated for a couple of reasons: 1-It is a copyrightable subject matter 2-You can only legally produce a derivative work of another’s copyrighted work with authorisation from the copyright holder.

Only a copyright owner has the exclusive right to produce derivative works based on their original copyrighted work. The owner of such work has the right to sue for infringement if his work is copied.

However, as earlier stated, a copyright owner has the right to grant permission to someone else to make a derivative work based on his or her original work. But if the original design does not belong to a designer and the designer uses the design without permission, then the designer can be sued for infringement.


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