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Commercial use licenses on designs can sometimes be difficult to understand. Click here for a little review of licenses.
Now, let me share a story of something that recently happened to me: I received an email with a concerned Etsy shop owner asking me for advice about her Etsy shop. Without giving out too much information to identify her, she sells adorable paper banners for kid’s birthdays made with a Silhouette Portrait. This shop owner has glowing 5 star reviews and a few hundred sales.
However, it was recently brought to her attention in a crafting group that her shop had some serious trademark and copyright infringements. Her products all feature popular cartoon characters like Disney Princesses, My Little Pony, and Sesame Street. This shop owner was surprised. She was looking to me for advice because she had purchased the files for all of her banners through Etsy sellers and had made sure that commercial use licenses were included.
So, what’s the problem here? She has a commercial use license for every design she is using!
The problem: While this shop owner thought she was doing the right thing by purchasing commercial use cut files, the sellers of the commercial use cut files that this seller purchased do not have the rights to sell the designs because they are trademarked and/or copyright protected. This shop owner is now faced with the decision of how she will continue her business because she doesn’t want to sell infringing products but did not realize that the sellers didn’t have permission to sell the file commercially.
Why Did I Share This Story With You?
I shared this story to highlight that even if you purchase a commercial use file from a private seller – it does not exclude you from having to abide by trademark and copyright laws.
Personally, I’d venture to say that there are no private sellers that have a license to redistribute any popular cartoon character via a cut file. This would include Disney characters, Universal characters, tv show characters, movie characters, and so on. I also wouldn’t limit this to just cartoon characters. I highly doubt that any private seller has the rights to sell professional sports team logos or brand name logos.
The takeaway? Do your research before purchasing commercial use cut files. Be sure that they aren’t trademarked or covered under copyright laws. The act of purchasing a commercial use cut file does not guarantee you commercial use rights. If you don’t, you are opening yourself and your business up to potential legal action against you.
Share, share, share! Save the image below to Pinterest and let’s get this information out to sellers.