I'm creating a "Breaking News" image / banner to promote a product. I'd like to give it an air of authenticity by using a similar look and style as CNN's or BBC's "Breaking News" flash (Title, subtitle, feel). The end result will be similar but different (won't be using real CNN logo). See examples: https://www.google.com/search?q=bbc+news+breaking+news&client=firefox-b-ab&biw=1464&bih=777&noj=1&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj37ImDoeTQAhVqBcAKHQwhDwYQ_AUICigD or https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-ab&biw=1464&bih=777&noj=1&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=cnn+breaking+news&oq=cnn+breaking+news&gs_l=img.3...460148.460595.0.460722.

So I'm wondering, is this fair use if the style is similar but different?


The use of lower thirds in the television industry is extremely common, and the style used by news channels can be pretty similar across news networks all over the world.

Some examples:

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

You can even find similar templates for sale on sites like Shutterstock and Envato market.

So, as long as you aren't exactly replicating a specific banner or using anything specifically identifiable as from a certain channel/company/whatever then you should be fine. Copyright doesn't extend to a generic style, especially one that is so widely used.


Its likley that CNN or BBC have it copyrighted so unless your using it for non-profit i would be careful. But i don't think anyone can give you a definite answer to this but CNN or BBC themselves.

Using copyrighted works for educational, informational, journalistic or critical purposes, as opposed to for-profit commercial purposes, is favored from a fair use standpoint.3 For example, using an image from the web as part of a website you’ve set up for your fifth graders to learn about art is more likely to qualify as fair use than using the same image as part of a web banner for your business.

Another element weighing in favor of fair use is if the use is “transformative.” Transformative uses are those that add or modify enough of the original work to give it new “expression, meaning, or message.” For example, parody is transformative, because its distorted reflection of the original work gives the original work another layer of meaning. If the use is truly transformative, then the other factors usually become less important.

So if its for none profit and you change factors in it so there are noticeable changes you should be okay.

  • I won't be selling anything directly from this banner - so no buy now / price / special etc. But, yes ultimately it is to promote a product. Also, I'm not planning to use any photos / pictures or complex design elements. Just some basic design elements like the titles and title boxes. So if you look at the final design it will look similar but different enough for the user to know that it's not cnn / bbc... What do you think? Dec 8 '16 at 10:25
  • Personally i think if your worried about copyright then you should just try and come up with something different, on the other hand it would be extremely hard to claim copyright on something so simple such as a Red Long Box with White text inside.
    – bLAZYY
    Dec 8 '16 at 11:41
  • I don't believe you could copyright a red rectangle with white type. The closest possible implication may be "trade dress" but even that's a stretch.
    – Scott
    Apr 7 '17 at 21:41

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