I’m creating the UI for a web application which will mainly run on Macs. So my goal is to preserve the look and feel of Mac OS. But since I don’t use Apples Frameworks I’m not allowed to use their UI design. So my question is: how closely am I allowed to copy their design without violating copyrights?
Do you think this is still legitimate?
No, those are all way too close. You’re suffering from Red Shorts Syndrome.
What does that mean? Well, let’s say you watch a race, and the guy who won the race wore red shorts. If you want to win a race, do you go out and buy red shorts and assume that wearing them will make you win? No, you look at what the winner did to train himself so that he could win. Did he run half-marathons every day? Eat minimal carbs? Drink seaweed tea? What techniques did he use to make his skill set better? That’s the idea you want to copy. Not even the actions: the mindset. This guy knew that carbs made him sluggish, so he ate as little carbs as possible. Maybe your albatross is dairy, so you cut out dairy instead.
In this UI instance, you need to deconstruct what about Apple’s interface makes it appealing: a high contrast between the background and the letters, a three-dimensional feel, an easy-to-read sans serif font, that kind of thing. Then you figure out how to apply those ideas to your unique, individual work. And you shouldn’t use every trick they do, because your work isn’t theirs.
Copy their work ethic, not their end result.