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Understanding Licenses on Cutting Files, Designs, and Fonts

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Before you start listing items for sale, or even designing them – let’s talk licenses. Licenses are a BIG DEAL when making items for sale, as misuse of a license can potentially mean you will be sued.

Whether you are making paper cards, vinyl designs, apparel, or anything else – there are many designs you can purchase or find free online for use in your cutting business. Each design has limitations set by the creator of the design. Most licenses fall into one of these categories:

Licenses for Designs

Personal Use Only

Personal use designs are for your personal use. This means that you can use the design to make something for yourself or your home. You can also use the design to create a gift for someone else. Generally, as long as no money is exchanging hands, you are within the limits of a personal use license.

Commercial Use/Limited Commercial Use

Commercial use licenses allow you to use the design on an item and then sell on eBay, Etsy, a craft fair, your online store, Facebook, or anywhere else. Some commercial licenses limit the number of projects you can create with a specific design, while others are unlimited.

Donation Items

Deciding on which license you need when creating items for a fundraiser or donation can be a sticky situation. I’ve seen some designers that are okay with items created for donation when using a personal license; while others require that you purchase a commercial license. In these cases, it is always best to read the individual license included with the design, or contact the designer.

Usage Can Change Over Time

You create a gift for Aunt Sally using a personal use design and she hangs it on her wall. Aunt Sally’s best friend Miss Betty comes over and wants you to make her the same, and she will even pay for you for it! Congratulations on your sale! Now, you need to return to the designer and purchase a commercial license for the design before you sell it to Miss Betty.

Licenses for Fonts

In general, font licenses work the same as cut files and designs. Don’t forget – any font used for a design on an item to sell, as well as, your website, logo, or advertising needs a commercial license. However, in the last few months, some websites have started offering additional license terms. For example, Creative Market now offers Desktop, Webfont, App, and E-Pub. You can read more about each of these licenses at this link. This highlights the need for small business owners to be familiar with the licenses at each venue you shop at or each seller you purchase from.

How can you organize your files with different licenses?

In my opinion, the two easiest ways to organize your personal use vs. commercial use items are:

  1. Store the files in separate folders on your computer.
  2. After downloading the file, add either PU or CU to the file name to help you keep up with your licenses. Once you get a system in place that works for you to store your files, it isn’t difficult to maintain.

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Understanding Licenses on Cutting Files, Designs, and Fonts - A must read for Silhouette Portrait and Cameo and Cricut Explore or Maker business owners - by