Professional scrapbook artist, paper crafter, and author, I have taught people how to make family memories into legacies for 20 years.
What Is an Angel Policy?
An angel policy is a limited license for use on any rubber stamp, acrylic stamp, digital stamp, or any product that is specially designed for a crafter's use. It typically specifies :
- How the product can be used
- The rules for selling items made with the product
- Whether a copyright statement needs to be made
- Whether permission needs to be requested in writing
- Stamped images cannot be used to create logos, clip art, or other commercial products
Can You Use a Stamp You Purchased to Make Art, or Does That Violate Copyrights?
It depends. Some companies have very few restrictions and allow users to create products to sell using their products. In some cases, they will sell you the commercial rights to the design for an extra fee. They often state that the items created for resale must be made by hand.
Other companies have more restrictions on their products. They simply state that they are for personal use only. This might sound a little challenging to a crafter, especially one who wants to sell cards and other products. But remember, the policy is made to protect the artist or designer from misusing an image or product that doesn't belong to them.
If you are just making things for personal use, you really don't need to concern yourself with the angel policy of any company. Crafters who are interested in altered arts, however, may want to check the angel policy of the companies whose stamps they are using, as some do not allow the altering of their images. This includes masking and layering images.
Common Limits and Restrictions of Angel Policies
- Images must be hand-stamped and may not be mass-produced.
- The image cannot be sold via computer or as an image. It can only be used as a stamped image in a project.
- Dies cannot be used to make and sell them as cut images. They can only be used to sell products.
- You cannot take credit for a stamped image or call it your own.
- Licensed images like Disney, Boy Scouts, and certain other logos can only be used for your own crafts. They cannot be used to make a commercial product.
Always contact the company if you have any questions about the use of their products.
If No Angel Policy Is Stated, Does That Mean I Can Do Anything I Want With the Product?
No. Even if the policy is not stated, you can only use the product for personal use.
Why Are There Angel Policies?
Angel policies are there to protect the manufacturer or artist from having their work stolen or misused.
Here is one example that I see happening all the time on the internet, and it drives me crazy!
- A person buys a file or an image from an artist to use.
- That same person shares the purchased file or image with a group online.
- She is basically giving away an image that, normally, the artist would expect to get paid for. Her intention may be just to share it, but in essence, she has violated the copyrights of the artist. That image could be shared hundreds of times without them even knowing about it.
How Do Angel Policies Affect a Professional Paper Crafter?
As we stated before, an angel policy allows limited-license-use of a stamp, image, digital stamp, or any program where you are able to reproduce an image of any kind.
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While it does not generally affect anything you use for personal use, it does affect anything you might sell that uses that image. Examples include greeting cards, scrapbook pages, art journals, and any vinyl items.
The Takeaway: While angel policies vary a lot from one company to another, the main point to think about is that the majority are fine with you using the image, but it must be handmade by you. In other words, if you were to stamp an item several times, that's no problem. But if you stamp the item and then make copies of it on a printer, then that might violate copyrights.
Other Typical Conditions in an Angel Policy
- How many products can be made
- Where the products can be sold
- Whether a copyright statement needs to be made
- Whether permission must be made in writing
- Stamped images cannot be used to create logos, clip art, or something meant for commercial use
- Where crafts made with their products can be sold
- Credit to be given if a picture is taken with the product
The Angel Policies of Large Companies Like Stampin Up, Crafters Companion, and American Crafts
|Name Of Company||Quantity Limitations||Other Information||Full Copy Of Current Angel Policy|
Close To My Heart
The following notice must appear on hand-stamped artwork created for resale: "Designs © CTMH Co".
Create And Craft
Each handcrafted item must be personally and individually made by you (i.e. not mass produced) and may not be reproduced or copied by any means – including graphic, digital, electronic, mechanical or photocopying.
See angel policy, Limited use on some images
Eat Cake Designs
If possible give credit to Eat Cake Designs
GIna K Designs
Great Impressions Stamps
50 stamped images
Wherever possible, Hero ArtsTo use Hero Arts images for this purpose, send or e-mail a letter acknowledging that you agree to the terms of the Angel Policy including the following information: Name and contact information A list of Hero Arts stamps you plan to use The number of items you will be making An acknowledgment that you "Agree to respect Hero Arts copyrights."Trademarks and Copyrights should be displayed.
Honey Bee Stamps
They have a cute stamp set with their logo included
Kitchen Sink Stamps
Free stamp offered to allow stampers to credit Kitchen Sink Stamps
Magnolia Rubber Stamps & Cutting Dies
Contact Magenta Stamps for details explaining how to display information about trademarks and copyright
My Favorite Things
Elizabeth Craft Designs
Maymay Made It
Copyright should be displayed whenever possible
36 hand stamped images
The user shall clearly display on the project the following: “Image: Copyright Penny Black, Inc.”
Very specific instructions. See website
Very specific instructions. See website
Give credit whenever possible
Very specific angel policy. Check website
Limited information available. Suggest you email them for more information
"All craftwork created for sale using Stampin' Up! images must be marked with one of the images from the official Stampin' Up! Limited License stamp sets shown in the Idea Book & Catalog"
20 hand stamped images
Credit must be given-see website
Very specific angel policies. See website
Very specific angel policy. See website
Limit of 50 hand stamped
When possible trademark and copyright should be displayed
Stamps Of Life
Credit Stamps of Life
No special requirements
Sweet And Sassy Stamps
Credit must be given
Acknowledge company as image source
Unity Stamp Company
Request copyright displayed. Stamp available
credit should be given when possible
Common Angel Policy Violations
- People buy an image and use it in projects without buying a commercial license. Many companies have images that they give away for free. Then, you can buy a commercial license if you are going to make things to sell. Oftentimes, people either don't understand the company rules or choose to ignore them.
- People share images they purchased and give them away on social media. Most of the time, people think they are just doing a good deed. But when you think about it, you are taking revenue from the artist.
- People sharing images without giving credit to the website or artist. If someone wants to get in touch with the artist to find their angel policies, there isn't an easy way to do so if the person who posted it neglected to give credit and cite the artist's name.
Licensed Images on Programs Like Cricut
Many of us have programs such as Cricut Access where we buy into the program for a fee. However, there are some images that the company charges extra for to use. It is a one time fee. The question always comes up as to why these images cost extra to use.
In these cases, the company (Cricut) has paid licensing fees to make the images available to you. These licensing fees come with a hefty price. They are companies like Disney. This is why the additional price is added in the program. I never have a problem with that—once I buy it, I own it.
More About Digital Images and Fonts
Many companies sell digital images and fonts. In many cases, some of these images and fonts are given freely to use for personal use. Otherwise, you can purchase images for personal use. In most cases, these companies will offer images for a fee for commercial use. They might also offer a package of images for personal and commercial use. It's important when you are making a purchase that you understand the use of the purchase.
- Fair Usage Policy – Crafters Companion
Crafters Companion has published an angel policy for the use of their products. You can get specific information on all of their products and licensed brands.
- Angel Policies - The eBay Community
More listings for angel policy companies
Clipart Policy For Commercial Use
What Happens if You Violate an Angel Policy?
Technically, the person holding the copyright could sue you for illegal use of their copyright.
© 2018 Linda F Correa
We would love to hear your thoughts, ideas and experiences with angel policies
Linda F Corea on March 16, 2020:
The first thing to understand is that if you are making a card for personal use, you do not have to give credit to anyone unless you chose to. If you are selling the card or demonstrating the card on a blog, or a video or any commercial use, then yes you would have to follow the angel policies for each company. So the key is personal use vs selling the item. If I was selling a card, I would make up a slip of paper to go into the card naming the stamp used and the company it came from. I know it is a pain if you are selling your work, but following the rules will help prevent problems. I hope that helps.
Shelley Stephen on March 15, 2020:
How do Angel Policies work on items that use multiple companies? For instance, if I make a card and I use a background stamp from Stampin' Up, a flower from Heartfelt Creations, a sentiment from Art Impressions...you get the idea. Do I have to credit everyone on the back of the card, or just the one that is the largest portion? I mix and match a lot, so half my card could be logos!
Linda F Correa (author) from Spring Hill Florida on August 16, 2019:
The products these companies make may be covered by copyright laws. In my opinion, that covers the product being copied by another company. The angel policies cover the use of the product by buyers. Some products are only for personal use, some for both personal and commercial use. Many companies sell digital images. Some companies allow you to use the image for personal use for free. But if you use these to make items to sell, they require you to purchase them. I f you use these products to make money, why would you not expect to pay for them?For example, there are images on the Cricut Design Space that they pay a large licensing fee, so they charge you to use them . Having said all that, I have never found the angel policies confusing, personally. I know of one recent case of a copyright case being charged where it appears a design was copied and had to be removed from the line. I am not sure about how effective the laws are. I defer to the lawyers. My only thought was to clarify the issue https://hubpages.com/my/hubs/comments
Heatheranne on August 15, 2019:
Angel policies are not needed. There are actual laws to cover copyright and trademarks. All Angel policies do is confuse people. Since they are all different, I doubt if any are legal and haven't found one proof that they are. I only see sellers of the tools, making claims about these policies, with no proof that they are legal.
Linda on April 13, 2019:
You are welcome.Best of luck in your new business !
Marilyn on April 13, 2019:
Im starting to make my craft like all occasions cards and hair clip bow and baby headbands key chains is it needs to stamp up too thanks and your video help a lot thanks
Linda F Correa (author) from Spring Hill Florida on January 09, 2019:
I can sure understand how you feel about this. Most companies state their angel policies on their websites and feel their legal obligation is met. But in some cases, it is hard to find that policy. I understand your frustration. A simple statement on their packaging would be easy to do and would clarify the situation. Most crafters, professional and hobbyists try to do the right thing. However I have seen a lot of people sharing images that they have purchased in craft groups, which of course is against the law. There are also cases where images are given free for personal use, and then people use them for things that they sell without paying the extra fee.
My purpose in this article was to hopefully make people more aware of the rules. I think your point on packaging is very valid. Let's hope someone picks up on that idea. Thanks for your input
Cat on January 08, 2019:
Thanks for this article.
I understand companies' need for angel policies. However, I think it is unethical that they don't state their policy directly on the product packaging or point of online sale. They are happy to sell you the product but then you have to do your homework to find out if you can actually use it as you intended. They know that many of the crafters buying their products intend to sell their creations, yet don't feel the need to clarify the user's restrictions at the time of purchase? This really needs to change, even if it means less products will be sold. It simply is the ethical, fair thing to do.
I had stamps and dies for several years before even learning that angel policies exist and I found out too late that I can't use many of them for anything I want to sell. I spent good money on these products. Of course, now that I am aware, I do my homework before buying. But I imagine there are tons of items purchased by folks who don't even know there are limitations to their use despite owning the products.
Linda F Correa (author) from Spring Hill Florida on April 18, 2018:
Thank you for your comment. I am a knitter also and had no idea that there is a similar policy for knitters. But it does make sense.
Donna Herron from USA on April 18, 2018:
Interesting hub and topic. I can see why an angel policy would have to exist for stamps and other paper craft products. Knitting patterns often have a somewhat similar policy written into their copyright that bans selling products made from the pattern. Thanks for outlining this policy for those of us that are new to paper crafts!