I have found a website that sells posters that includes graphic design, and am now thinking of creating from scratch my own posters to sell on my website, using the same idea/concept (please note that I am not copying any of the already existing work, I start from a blank page).

By using the same idea/concept for my own website (commercial use), am I infringing any copyright/IP law?

Thank you guys!


2 Answers 2


It depends.

On a lot of things.

But, in general, the more heavily you 'borrow' the more likely someone will see that as an intellectual property infringement and the more likely you'll be opening yourself up to legal issues.

But that also doesn't mean that any of that will happen, either. Concepts are borrowed all the time. Where that line is between 'borrow' and 'steal' is typically going to depend on a multitude of factors on a case-by-case basis and, ultimately, heavily dependent on the lawyers.


Depending where you are in the world, but in the US, yes anything that replicates someone else's work is considered copyright infringement. I believe there is a set rule for variation, which is 30%, if i recall to not be considered as infringement. Do your research first and as stated, I also am not a lawyer.

Personally I would look at it as copyright infringement because you are technically copying someone else's design/layout. Plus viewers/buyers may consider it shady that your are similar to someone else and not creating your own work. Also, wouldnt you be annoyed if you found someone else doing similar work, site designs, or selling tactics as you?


What is copyright infringement?

Copyright infringement occurs when someone other than the copyright holder copies the “expression” of a work. This means that the idea or information behind the work is not protected, but how the idea is expressed is protected. For example, there have been many movies about Pirates, but only one Jack Sparrow.

Taken from Click and Copyright

  • There is no set % rule. It's also not necessarily copyright infringement as much as 'intellectual property' infringement--which could include things like plagiarism.
    – DA01
    Commented Aug 20, 2013 at 17:32
  • You are making good points Matt (I’m in Canada btw). I understand the fact I cant just reproduce the exact same graphic that already exists, even though I start from scratch. I believe that would be considered plagiarism.
    – Nico
    Commented Aug 20, 2013 at 17:35
  • In my situation, the idea is the same, but the end result looks somewhat different. For instance, I have improved the look of it by adding more colors, I moved names around (the poster includes a big amount of words/names),and used words/names that weren’t on the original version (as well as I haven’t used certain names/words that were on the original). Long story short, it’s my own version of an already existing concept… Same idea with a different look. Thoughts on that?
    – Nico
    Commented Aug 20, 2013 at 17:36
  • @DA01 i will find the case that documents the percentage a court considers when considering a copyright infringement.
    – user9447
    Commented Aug 20, 2013 at 18:28
  • @Nico our thoughts don't matter. Only the lawyer's thoughts matter. (or more specifically, the judge's) :)
    – DA01
    Commented Aug 20, 2013 at 20:19

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