What constitutes copyright infringement?

If you change 10%, is that enough to avoid copyright infringement?

So, we have all heard from someone that we know that changing 10% of someone else’s copyright work is enough to avoid copyright infringement, unfortunately that’s not quite the case.

So, when we talk about what copyright infringement is and whether you are infringing someone else’s copyright, we are talking about three things:

  1. The first thing that we will look at is whether someone has copied a substantial part of someone else’s work. Now, this isn’t a percentage, it’s about deciding whether you’ve copied the original aspect of someone else’s work and the thing that you’ve created.
  2. The second thing we ask is whether the works look similar to each other. If your work and the other persons have commonalities, then that supports the risks or the chances of copyright infringement being found.
  3. The last thing we look at is whether you had an opportunity to copy the other person’s work and this means, could you publicly access it for example, by seeing it on the internet.

The things that you should remember about copyright infringement are that if someone alleges copyright infringement against you, that if you have an independent design path or you’ve come up with your work independently of theirs, then you’re generally going to be in the clear from infringing their copyright.

The other thing is that small changes might not be enough to save you from copyright infringement so if you have copied someone else’s work, you’ve added little bits and pieces but you’re not quite sure, you should come and talk to us about it.

If you need plain English advice on copyright, get in touch with one of our experts.