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Is tracing/vectorizing furniture (everything in my home) for commercial use in violation of copyright?

How can designers make arrows, buttons, tiles, etc. that maybe accidentally copied? I have button ideas but I worry I maybe accidentally copy.

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closed as off-topic by Scott, ckpepper02, e-sushi, Alex Blackwood, Andrew Leach Dec 17 '13 at 16:16

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave these specific reasons:

  • "This looks like brainstorming/idea gathering for a specific project or a request for free work. This site is suited for answers to general design problems, not ideas or work that is specific to one project. See this meta post for more info." – ckpepper02, Alex Blackwood
  • "This appears to be a tech support question about fixing technology to work as advertised. Please edit the question so that it pertains to using technology to solve a design problem. You may want to check if it hasn't already been asked in Super User. In many cases, contacting the manufacturer is the quickest option." – Scott, e-sushi
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

This sounds very similar to a recent question: Is it plagiarism if my logo looks similar to an existing one? – JohnB Dec 2 '13 at 22:45
Ultimately, the answer is: a) it depends and b) ask a lawyer. But it's more complicated than that. Furniture design has some intellectual property protection, but not in the same sense as copyright does. However, a particular pattern on a particular fabric on a particular piece of furniture may have copyright protection. That said, you could still take a photo of said piece, and you'd then own the copyright to the photo. Long story short, you're likely fine, but as always, it depends... – DA01 Dec 3 '13 at 0:54
Just like there are multiple different styles for the same icons made by different designers, there are multiple styles of buttons. You are certainly not in trouble with a button design. If you're worried it isn't unique enough, rejoice - that would make you very unlikely to get sued since others probably have variations of the design (afterall, you can only copyright to a point... I don't think the ideas of buttons can be copyrighted, for example). Honestly, I'm pretty sure that tracing your furniture for vector art will not be a problem as long as you do something to make it your own. – Joshua Lamusga Dec 17 '13 at 6:42
The best guidance on these questions I've seen is that to infringe, there has to be substantial similarity with protectible elements of the original. So in your case I'd imagine (not a lawyer) that it would need to be a) recognisable and b) of something distinctive or unique. Generic features (e.g. the shape of an average sofa): no problem. Distinctive features (e.g. a particular pattern, or distinctive chair design): a problem unless you use it as only inspiration, creating something that is not "substantially similar". – user568458 Dec 17 '13 at 16:58
Be aware there is no such thing as a "Change it by 10% or more and it's legal" factor. – Scott Dec 17 '13 at 17:46

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