Illegal Derivative Works

“DERIVATIVE WORK [copyright]. A work based on a preexisting work that is changed, condensed, recast, or embellished in some way.”

Attorney Ivan Hoffman has an outstanding article on derivative works HERE.

This week, I received an email asking me to comment on a situation regarding textbook publishers suing individuals for publishing “answers to homework problems.” It’s briefly discussed on HERE. In a nutshell, some publishers of textbooks are suing authors/publishers of guides that contain answers to the questions in those textbooks, claiming they are derivative works. I have to agree. When someone else uses your original work for profit it is, well, just plain wrong, and very likely illegal.

Imagine writing a textbook with challenging questions for students, but then seeing a book of answers for YOUR book on sale next to it at your local bookstore. In this case, you would like lose school sales because your book would no longer be challenging for students. What if you were intending to publish an answer guide for teachers but that author beat you to it?

The person who brought this to my attention wrote, “publishers are suing college students, and other low income individuals, for relatively low-level copyright infringement involving (selling) answers to homework problems.”

First, no matter what someone’s income level, copyright infringement is copyright infringement. “Low level copyright infringement” is still illegal, and violates the rights of another. And, as we all know, most writers are low-income people themselves!

Novelists can protect their titles and characters by trademarking names/terms they don’t want copied by others.

Here’s a copy of my email response:

I agree that creating an answer key is a derivative work and should be a violation. Derivative works piggyback on original works for profit. This practice is not fair, nor does it appear to be legal.

Authors should create their own works and not attempt to take shortcuts to profit by piggybacking on others’ successes.

I also have a moral disagreement with any individual or firm that helps students cheat.

Got questions about Print On Demand and Self-publishing? Ask Angela Hoy.

About The Author


Angela Hoy is the publisher of, the author of 19 books, and the co-owner of (one of the original POD publishers that still gets books to market in less than a month), (print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish), and Abuzz Press (the publishing co-op that charges no setup fees).

Angela has lived and traveled across the U.S. with her kids in an RV, settled in a river-side home in Bradenton, FL, and lived on a 52 ft Irwin sailboat. Angela now resides on a mountaintop in Northwest Georgia, where she plans to spend the rest of her days bird watching, gardening, hiking, and taking in all of the amazing sunrises. - the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday. - According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is: "As close to perfection as you're going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I've ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can't go wrong here. Plus, they're selective and won't publish any manuscript just because it's accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors' books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know."

Abuzz Press offers FAST and FREE book publication, but only accepts a small percentage of submissions, and only works with U.S. authors. - "We Prep, You Publish!" Print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish. Offers formatting and design services only, and then provides simple instructions for authors on where to sign up to have the print and ebook editions printed/listed/sold. Cut out the middle man. Keep 100% of what bookstores pay for your book!

Angela's POD Secrets Revealed Series can be found HERE.

Have a POD Book with another publisher? See if BookLocker can give you a better deal. (BookLocker offers "disgruntled author discounts" to those who want to move from other POD services.)

See BookLocker's publishing packages HERE.


BOOKLOCKER ON FACEBOOK - Provides links to free excerpts!



Angela is the creator of the Original 24-Hour Short Story Contest!

Read More Of Angela's Articles HERE

TRAVEL WRITING 2.0: Earning Money from your Travels in the New Media Landscape - SECOND EDITION

Completely revised edition of the ground-breaking travel writing book that provides a road map to success in the digital age. It dives headlong into the entrepreneurial world of blogging and digital books, while still acknowledging the real money to be made in declining print forms.

Drawing on interviews and survey responses from more than 100 successful travel writers and bloggers, this is the definitive guide to creating success instead of waiting for permission. Written by a veteran, award-winning writer with two decades of experience as a book author, online publisher, freelancer, and blogger.

Read more here: