Can I profit from copywrited designs/quotes if I alter them by using a different font and similar design?

I’m wanting to begin my own t-shirt business. I’ve found some great ideas online. I know that I cannot profit from the exact designs due to copywright laws

Asked on May 30, 2016 under Business Law, Louisiana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

 No, you can't do that: copyright is not just over the exact copyrighted material, but also is the right to control (or prohibit) "derivative works" or "adaptions"--that is, the right to control similar creative works which are modifications of the copyrighted material. The sort of changes you propose are exactly the sort of minor changes that fall squarely within the prohibition on derivative works or adaptions; if you do what you suggest, you will be violating copyright.

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