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Lee v. A.R.T. Co. - 125 F.3d 580 (7th Cir. 1997)


A "derivative work" is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a "derivative work."


Annie Lee (plaintiff) sold her creations to various stores and one store sold some of her postcards and lithographs to A.R.T. Company (defendant) which mounted the works on ceramic tiles and resold them. Annie Lee brought suit against A.R.T. Company for monetary and injunctive relief under 17 U.S.C.S. § 106(2), alleging that the tiles were derivative works that could not have been sold without her permission. The district court entered summary judgment in favor of A.R.T. Company.


Did the district court err in granting summary judgment in favor of A.R.T. Company?




On appeal, the Court held that A.R.T. Company's mounting of Annie Lee's work was not a derivative work, as it was not an original work of authorship, nor did it recast, transform, or adapt Annie Lee's work. The Court held that originality was essential to a derivative work. The Court held that § 106(2) created a separate exclusive right to prepare derivative work and the statute did not cover plaintiff's claim. The court affirmed the order from the district court.

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