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Canva content licensing explained: Stock images, selling designs, copyright and more

Canva has a huge library of media to use in your Content. But, in order to stay above board when designing using Content, there are certain terms and conditions you must be aware of so you can have peace of mind when making use of your creations.

In this article, we’ll explain the basics of Canva’s licensing terms and conditions.

Please note, you should reference Canva’s latest Content License Agreement (CLA) for the full terms and conditions that apply to your use of Content, as well as the most up to date terms. As a starting principle, one of Canva’s core values is to be a good human. You should keep this front of mind when using Canva to create your designs. For example, you shouldn’t take credit for another artist’s hard work by trying to sell a design that you haven’t created yourself.

Selling designs made on Canva

Generally speaking, Canva’s CLA allows both Free and Pro users to sell their designs on printed merchandise, like posters, mugs and even tote bags. Users can also design and sell certain digital products, like e-books and magazines, or create designs for clients. That said, there are some exceptions to this, so you should ensure that you review the full CLA before getting started.

What users cannot do under any circumstances, is sell Content on a standalone basis. This means you can’t put an illustration or image from Canva’s Content library on a T-shirt and sell it as-is. The designs printed on the merchandise you sell must be your own work. To make a design your own, you should incorporate other elements like icons, graphics and stickers in your design, so the original media becomes a part of a unique composition and can be printed on merchandise to sell.

Creating and selling templates

Existing templates on Canva cannot be resold as-is, either. If you want to sell your template for others to use, the safest approach is to create a template from scratch by adding text, fonts or by modifying colors and layout elements before you list it for sale.

If your template design includes Pro Content, you must keep the template within Canva. Meaning, you can only sell the template as a shareable link that directs users back to Canva, not as an off-platform, downloadable file. This ensures all royalties are paid to Canva’s creators.

For this reason, there is also a pixel limit for unedited media in your design, particularly for websites and e-books, to protect them from being used outside of Canva.

Using Pro content in your designs

One thing to keep in mind if you’re a Canva Free user is any Pro Content, including templates and images, will be watermarked. Users can remove this watermark by purchasing a one-off Content license for use in a single design.

However, if you intend to use a piece of Pro Content across multiple designs, for example, to post across different social platforms with varying aspect ratios, you’ll need to purchase a license for each file format or unique design. If you find yourself creating multiple campaigns a month, a monthly Canva subscription might be more cost effective. With a subscription you have unlimited access to Pro content and other editing tools.

Stock images to endorse goods and services

Canva has thousands of images to help you develop a tone of voice for your brand.

The obvious restriction being, if the use of the Content in your design could be considered offensive, refrain from using it.

Images including people require particular caution. You can’t feature people within Content if it may result in them being depicted in a bad light or in a way they may find offensive. Prohibited uses include pornography or to sell products like tobacco, escort services, medical products, or in connection with political endorsements.

The use of stock images should also never imply that a model is a genuine customer endorsing your business. You may have a real testimonial to use on your website, but, you cannot use a headshot of a model to relay this message without explicit permission from them.

Canva doesn’t grant any right for your use of names, people, trademarks, trade dress, logos, registered designs or works of art or architecture depicted in Free Content.

Creating trademarks and logos

Because Canva’s Content library and logo templates are available to both Free and Pro users, one person cannot claim ownership over them. In layman’s terms, you cannot say that you own a logo or trademark that you create on Canva using Content or templates from Canva’s library because it is likely to be similar to another person’s logo if they used the same Content or template. This means that you cannot use, or seek to register your designs as a trademark.

Canva’s logo templates are intended to be used for personal projects, such as labeling home brewed beer, providing you with inspiration and providing a general starting point for your designs.

Learn more about Canva’s policy on trademarks created in Canva here.

Using Canva’s music for commercial videos

Free and Pro account holders cannot use the music available in Canva’s media library for paid media advertisements or commercials. You should avoid using Canva’s music in traditional media channels, such as TV, cinema, radio, podcasts, and billboards. You also cannot remix or alter Canva’s Pro Music tracks.

You can, however, use music for online advertisements for YouTube, Instagram, and Tiktok.

Remember, if you’re sharing your designs on social media, you must verify your music to avoid copyright infringement. Learn more about purchasing and verifying your music here.

Ready to start designing using Canva’s Content? Don’t forget to watch Canva’s helpful video on Canva’s CLA. And remember to check out Canva's full content license agreement here.

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