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Canva Licensing Terms in 2021

By far, one of my most popular posts to date has to do with the terms of use that you didn’t read before using Canva. The problem with this post is that it’s about a year old, and Canva has changed this licensing terms recently. So here’s a look at the Canva licensing terms in 2021.

So Canva is amazing. I use it too. But when you’re using Canva, you kind of have to wonder, “Okay, with all of the media available, what are the restrictions around using this stuff?” And really, it comes down to two things: free media and one design use.

Of course, free media is media that’s available to everybody regardless of whether you have a pro account. One design use material is also available. If you don’t have a pro account, you just have to pay every time you want to use it.

Does having a Pro account make a difference?

One question you might be asking is, “Well, I have a pro account. Doesn’t that mean I can use everything however I want to?”

Nope, you are still subject to licensing terms, even if you have a pro account. So let’s dig in.

Can you see an identifiable person in free media?

Here are things you want to keep in mind if you’re using free media on Canva. When you’re using photos, make sure and see if you can see an identifiable person. Canva has come out and said that they can’t guarantee that someone’s face can be used in a commercial setting if you can see their face or likeness and a photo. So using photos, you can see someone that’s identifiable, make sure and maybe look for more info or contact the photographer or Canva if you want to use it in connection with a business.

Free media restrictions

For Free Media, you can edit it however you wish, you don’t have to necessarily give credit, although it is appreciated, and using free media on books and posters and other promotional materials all okay, but you can’t sell unadulterated copies of free media on a poster or physical print or anything like that without “adding value.” But it has to be more than just taking the free media and slapping it on something and selling it or using it. You can’t just use that free media by itself to sell note cards or whatever it is. When in doubt, ask Canva. Of course you can’t resell any free media or other media on Canva on any other stock media platforms.

Creating logos in Canva

Here’s a big one, you can’t use any Free Media in connection with a trademark or logo. So don’t use that Free Media stuff in order to create a logo. And then finally, look for “editorial use only.” This means that you can’t use that material that says for editorial use only for business purposes, it can only be for things that are newsworthy, and you have to give credit if that’s the case.

One Design Use

Okay, let’s talk about One Design Use. Again, you can use this stuff in printed context on social media, ads, on posters, etc. Books and magazines are cool. Websites and videos are cool. But for that stuff, there’s a 480,000k file limit.

What you can’t do is this: use it in more than one design. That’s why it’s called a One Design Use license. So this means photos, elements that you see in Canva, you can’t use those things more than once. That’s why it’s called a One Use License. Now, my understanding when you go into Canva is that you can resize it and use it say in an Instagram post and an Instagram story. And that’s okay, that’s not more than one design.

You also can’t use this stuff on a standalone basis in connection with selling merchandise like posters and shirts and mugs. So that’s a big one. When in doubt, here’s what I want you to do.

Right inside Canva, you can see all of these things, all these elements, you’ve got photos, whatever it is on the left hand panel, right? If you click on whatever element you want to use, you see these little dot dot dots, the ellipse. Click there. And it might say “free for Canva Pro,” then click on this little eye in the circle. This tells you what you can and can’t do with this particular type of media. And it’s kind of broad strokes because it gives you “Yes, you can do these things” “No, you can’t do these things.” But then “learn more about this license.” And it takes you to the One Design Use License Agreement. So you can see what licensing agreements apply to certain types of media.

When in doubt, this is what I want you to do to check on the status of these different elements because what it comes down to is what license applies, and what are the rules under that license.

Using images alone

Something I want to highlight when it comes to any image over here is that if I were to take this image just like that and post it to Instagram, I would be violating the license and this is not super clear on their Terms of Use. But you have to at least create some kind of filter or add some elements to it to add that “value” to the photo and make the photo different. Just adding a photo by itself is a violation of the Canva licensing terms in 2021.

So there you go: an update on the Canva licensing terms in 2021 (and use restrictions). Hope that helps and I’ll see you next time.