Clipart Guide: All About Clipart Licensing

Clipart Licensing - What does it all mean? 

Clipart licensing can be really confusing! Artists offering clipart usually have different terms with different add-on licenses and then there's different rules for different uses! But hopefully clearing up some of the terms will help you make informed decisions on how the whole system works. 

Commercial Use Clipart vs Personal Use Clipart 

Personal use clipart just means that you are not profiting by using the clipart or gaining anything commercially (like a trade of services). Personal projects are usually small projects such as making a t-shirt design for a family member, making a mug design for your mom or a birthday invite for your child. Commercial use means you intend to use the clipart for profit or promotion, whether that's at a big corporation or at a small one person business out of their home. Does the use revolve around any type of business? If yes, it's commercial use. 


Licensing Terms are Complicated

Angel Policy 

Since clipart is also used for crafting, you might see some clipart sellers refer to their Angel Policy. An angel policy is another way of saying "licensing terms." Angel policies usually state how the clipart can be used, the rules about using the clipart commercially, whether the clipart can be used for logos, etc. You will mostly see angel policies listed for crafting related items. Everyone else just uses Licensing Terms or Terms of Use. 

Extended Commercial License 

 Many clipart providers allow commercial use with limits. And those limits could be anything really! It could be using the clipart on up to 500 end products or using the clipart up until you reach $1000 in sales on your designs. Limits can be anything but usually relate to end product numbers or a sales amount. This is where an extended commercial license often comes in. Some clipart providers allow more end products or higher sales with an extended license. You usually purchase an extended license at the same time as the clipart if you know you will need it. If you're unsure, the best course of action is to contact the clipart provider for clarification.  

POD License 

POD refers to Print on Demand which is a service that allows a user to provide a digital design that is applied to a physical product by the POD service. POD sites fall into two main categories, one where the designer promotes the product on their own website or marketplace and pays for manufacturing when an order is made (like Printful and Printify). The profit comes from the price markup between what your customer pays and what the POD service charges. And the second type of POD is where a user uploads their design onto products with no cost to the designer.  The POD service takes care of manufacturing and shipping the product to your customer. The designer receives a small fee or percentage for each sale. Examples of this type of POD are Society6, RedBubble, Zazzle, CafePress.  

Some clipart providers don't include POD usage in their regular license. A POD license can be an add-on to a standard license but it is not something every clipart artist will allow. POD licenses usually come with an extra fee. 

Add-On Licenses 

Other license options that you may see out there are Transfer or Decal Licenses which allow the user to sell physical transfers (such as a sublimation transfer or DTF transfer) of your clipart or design. I've seen sticker licenses as an add-on, fabric/textile licenses and many more. If you don't see any mention of the type of license you need and the use isn't specifically excluded in the main terms, it doesn't hurt to reach out and ask for the terms you need. Many clipart providers will work with you for an add-on license. Please note that add-on licenses will come with extra fees. 

Check the license first! 

Before you purchase any clipart, it's a good to go through the terms of use and ensure you can use the images for your intended project. I always prefer that customers contact me for clarification. I know licensing is confusing, especially when you're new to design and want to get things right! 


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