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Douglas G. Verge
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My software license agreement gives me the right to make modifications or adaptations, called "derivative works," and it says that I own the copyright in the "derivative works." Do I own the copyright in the entire new work that incorporates my modifications?

Monday, October 31, 2005
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When the licensee is the owner of the copyright in derivative works that it creates, there is a common misconception that the licensee owns the copyright in the entire resulting work, including the licensed software incorporated into the new work. That is not typically the case. Without an express grant from the licensor, you only own the copyright in the new material contributed by you. You do not acquire any rights to the preexisting software or a copyright in the entire resulting new work. Given the ramifications of this result, you should carefully assess the rights you are being given during negotiations.