One of the most common questions I get asked about copyright law is “How much do I need to change in (insert creation name) in order to use it without infringing copyright?”
Whether they are asking because someone reused their work or they are thinking about doing it to someone else, these people are usually asking the wrong question.
Likely misled by rumors of a 10 percent rule or something similar, many think there’s some magic number that lets themselves or others skirt copyright law by creating a new work from an old with minimal work.
Unfortunately, these people often get a very hard lesson about copyright and the way the law works when they try to put their theory into practice. The reason is that the notion of derivative works is far from that simple. However, it’s a right that every creator needs to be aware of and understand, both to help them protect their own work, and to know how to interact with other copyrighted works as well. [Read more…]