A picture of a slipcover on a company's website- a company's sofa will always look the same. If you had the sofa picture would look the same so how can it be modified enough? I understand you can't put picture in a stock image of a room but can you draw an outline around it in a color- is that enough? What if an outline is drawn of it and slipcover fabric swatch is imposed in paint 3D- can you use it to list on a marketplace site? How much modification is needed? And it doesn't matter they no longer sell cover, it's discontinued but they still keep copyright?

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    Wouldn't it be easier to just take your own photo of what you are selling? Commented May 6, 2022 at 21:51

2 Answers 2


The question has two false presuppositions. The first is that copyright only prohibits exact copying, and you can reproduce inexactly as long as the result is "different enough". Actually, the original work is protected against any copying and reproduction, and only the copyright holder can authorize making a "derivative work". So there is no "needed degree of change" – you have described copyright infringement.

Second, copyright exists until it expires, many years in the future: copyright does not evaporate in case there is no current commercial exploitation of a work.


The question asks:

how can it be modified enough?

I presume this means how can it be modified enough to avoid being a copyright infringement.

There is no single bright-line rule on this issue, or on issues of this sort. it is a case-by-case determination.

If changes are trivial, the new work is probably a copy, and so is an infringement unless permission is obtained or fair use applies.

If changes are more substantial, but the work starts as a copy that is then altered, it is probably a derivative work, and thus is infringement unless permission is obtained or fair use applies.

If the image is modified sufficiently that it is not a derivative work, it will probably not be suitable as a salse catalog image.

Fair use will depend on factual details, but if this is being used for a similar purpose (sales image) it is not transformative, and it seems that it could serve as a replacement for the original, so fair use seems unlikely to apply unless significant details have not been mentioned in the question.

A new, original photo of a similar sofa and slipcover, or even a new image of the exact same sofa and slipcover, are far less likely to be considered to be a derivative work, and should be free of copyright claims.

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