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I have a piece of software that allows you to easily create website designs. To communicate how easy it is to create website designs using the software, I have created a copy of a fortune 500 website and wish to post it on my website. The message being 'You too can create fortune 500 website designs using this software'.

Is it legal to both copy the design of a fortune 500 website and is it legal to use that copy to promote my own software?

Information about what I mean by copy:

  • No images have been taken from the original fortune 500 website (F5W). I use free to use stock images that look very similar to those used in the F5W. For example if the F5W shows an image of their new phone at the top of the page horizontally centred, I show an image of another different phone (taken from public stock images) at the top of the page horizontally centred.
  • The words on my webpage are different and not copied from the F5W. But they are similar; so in the F5W design it may say 'Introducing the new iPhone X', mine will say 'Introducing the new Cell Z'.
  • The layout of the fortune 500 webpage has been copied pretty much exactly. So if the F5W design consists of 3 rows each with 2 columns I have copied this. Where the F5W has a section with a heading, text below it and a background image of a phone, I have also copied this design (except the text and image is different).
  • The colours used are exactly the same.
  • The language and wording is like so; instead of the company being 'Apple', its 'Orange', instead of 'Apple TV' its 'Orange Film', instead of 'WatchOS' its 'TimeOS'.
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If you do this:

...The layout of the fortune 500 webpage has been copied pretty much exactly.... The colors used are exactly the same.

You will clearly be in violation of that website's Site Terms and Conditions of Use (emphasis mine)

Proprietary Rights. As between you and us, we own, solely and exclusively, all rights, title and interest in and to the Web Site, all the content (including, for example, audio, photographs, illustrations, graphics, other visuals, video, copy, text, software, titles, Shockwave files, etc.), code, data and materials thereon, the look and feel, design and organization of the Web Site, and the compilation of the content, code, data and materials on the Web Site, including but not limited to any copyrights, trademark rights, patent rights, database rights, moral rights, sui generis rights and other intellectual property and proprietary rights therein. Your use of the Web Site does not grant to you ownership of any content, code, data or materials you may access on or through the Web Site.

Fortune 500 doesn't need to state in their site TOS that they own the copyright on the design; their copyright began as soon as the site was designed and published. Copying the over-all design and layout is not Fair Use (Wikipedia), either.

You will open yourself up to a legal (civil) copyright infringement claim by copying their site. Using the design as an example of your design software could make Fortune 500 even more interested in pursuing a claim, since you will be using their design in a commercial sense.

Read I have a question about copyright. What should I read before I ask it?

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