Re: Altering Existing Works
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Posted by Stephen L. Anderson on July 20, 2001 at 00:44:31:
In Reply to: Altering Existing Works posted by cooler on July 19, 2001 at 10:49:12:
: How substantial must the changes be to an existing piece of artwork before a new copyright to the altered piece can be established & then sold?
When a work bears a substantial similarity such that it represents an unauthorized use or taking of copyrighted material, an infringement action will likely be validly supported.
The 98% rule, the ten percent rule, and the seven significant changes rule are all urban myths that pop up online, but they don't teach in law school.
When an Artist legally alters an existing work of art, (e.g., by painting a mustache on the Mona Lisa) the Artist does not claim a copyright to the underlying work, but instead, properly disclaims any such copyright and thereby obtains a copyright only in the DERIVATIVE WORK.
Thus, the Artist may claim a copyright only in the changes (and the resulting expressive impact of such changed work).
In his painting "Stars & Stripes" American Artist Jasper Johns does not obtain rights to the Old Glory design sewn by Betsy Ross, but rather only may copyright the expressive aspects of his representation of the flag on canvas.
His resulting "derivative work" does not protect the subject matter of the flag, only his own creative expression contained in his unique representation.
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