Free with premium - exclusive design question

Ok, I’ve emailed and heard back from Averly, but I still have questions…and if the answer remains the same, can somebody please clarify why the answer is what it is, because it doesn’t make sense to me.

This is a quote from @dan, from the Sept. update. The “Free with Premium” designs come with a commercial license, and we are allowed to sell the physical products that we’ve made with those catalog designs.

Unlimited free designs - Get access to print dozens of beautiful and practical designs in the new “Free with Premium ” section of the catalog. You can print as many as you want - for yourself, for gifts, or even to sell!

So, my question is about designs being submitted into the catalog, that fall under the free with premium designs. These are the terms for submitting “exclusive” designs…
This is copied and pasted from the email I received today from GF.

You’re right–if you choose to submit your design under an exclusive license, you are granting Glowforge exclusive rights to sell your design (including both physical and digital).

The terms mean:
• You may not sell, offer, or make your design (physical and digital) available anywhere else.
• You must not have any pre-existing arrangements to offer your design anywhere else.
• You may continue to use their design for personal/non-commercial purposes.
• Your customers can sell what they make without mentioning your authorship. In addition, they can change the design before they do.

Now what I’m wondering…is if I submit a design, and grant GF exclusive rights to it…under the terms…I can’t print my own design to sell, but everyone who gets it from the catalog can? Can someone please let me know why that is? I really want to make some things exclusively for Glowforge, but not if I can’t even make and sell what I created…but everybody else can. Can I “purchase” my own design from the catalog so I can get the rights to sell the physical items?

I would really love some clarity on this, because my brain can’t wrap around it. And if this really is the way it is…can someone please explain it a little better, because I don’t understand.

Also, is there anymore clarity I can get, on the benefits of making a design exclusive? How much more $ do we get from something that is exclusive, to something that’s not? It’s all pretty hazy at this point, and I guess I still need some convincing on why I should even offer exclusive designs.
(I want to add, this is not a negative post, I’m just trying to understand before I sign my rights away to my work. I’m actually really excited for the opportunity to be a designer for the catalog!)

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Assuming that you have a premium membership, you would also be included in the beneficiary group, so I see no issue with you submitting with an exclusive and still being able to download and use the file for your own use.

I was thinking along those lines but realized that if your design has a pattern (say a flower and leaves you drew) you might “purchase” the design and make that, but you could not use that specific flower and leaves on some different design, or sell any design with that pattern on Etsy?

I am so confused I plan on not making anything “exclusive” that has any potential questions like that.

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I may be wrong, but my understanding is that by submitting it to the GF Premium section, it means that you can’t have made any other arrangements to sell the digital design on any other site such as Etsy, DesignBundles, SoFontsy, etc. And if you already have the design on your computer, there is no need for you to “purchase” it from GF as you already have the file. The purpose of being exclusive to GF Premium (my understanding) is that you get paid from GF when someone prints your designs, but it allows the person to sell the products they make from your design without having to worry about giving you credit, paying you directly for the design, or getting themselves in trouble for selling the products. They cannot, however, sell the digital file, as they actually don’t even have access to it.

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This. Yes.

I wouldn’t use this as the threshold for selling physical items from a design that has been submitted as exclusive.

Further, as far as “purchasing” and printing from the catalog, I think a system that allows you to “purchase” (even if included with your membership/free with premium) your own design and obtain monetary benefits from doing so is ripe for abuse. What’s to stop you from shrinking it 90% and printing it 500x on cardboard? A normal user wouldn’t do that but a user that profits from such activity certainly has the incentive for doing so, just to ring the counter up.

My opinion: if designing things for exclusive, you need to consider it almost a work-for-hire type situation. Legally it’s not, since you retain copyright rather than corporate authorship, but you should be prepared and willing to give up any and all rights of usage. That Gf has made an exception for personal/non-commercial use is actually very lenient, IMO.


OMG. I never would’ve thought of that. If I made the file, I’d still just be printing it from my own source (if allowed), rather than the catalog. I asked the way I did, because premium catalog designs come with a license to sell the physical items.

I just want to know, if I submit a pair of earrings, that I can still make them and sell them at the farmers market here. If I can’t, then there’s going to be no exclusive designs coming from me. I understand they make the rules with this, and I’m not being forced into anything, and can easily say yes or no, but I’m struggling with the logic…if someone else purchases the exclusive design I made, they can make those earrings and sell them at the farmers market, but I am not allowed, even though I made it, and I have access to the premium designs.

And yes, the “work for hire” is exactly how I saw it! But by the sounds of it, I’ll never be able to make and sell what I’ve designed (if I go exclusive), while everyone else can.

I want to make myself clear again, I’m really not upset one way or the other…I just don’t want to get myself into trouble by doing something I’m not supposed to. This discussion, and questions are to get more clarity so I can make an informed decision. I’m really hoping Dan, or other staff chime in, because they are really the only ones who know the answers…but I appreciate all of your thoughts too!!

I’m also aware this is all still new, and there’s probably some wrinkles that need ironing out.

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I feel like that’s a, have your cake and eat it too, kind of scenario. If it’s a good design, the long-term earnings scenario of residual income from an exclusive design will almost always be greater than the earnings potential of making/selling with far fewer costs, effort, etc. If it’s not a good design (or well-accepted design), well, you’re likely to not make much either on the digital or physical front.

You’re basically leveraging potentially thousands and thousands of makers to sell on your behalf. The more successful they are, the more successful your residuals will be. :man_shrugging: I’d rather let a lot of people that I don’t have to pay, manage, or worry about, bring me success and dollars.

Just my thoughts :slight_smile:


That’s definitely a way of looking at it, that I wasn’t. This is why I love discussions and debates! My opinion isn’t always right (even though I’d like to think it is! :laughing:). And I love cake.

Your thoughts go along with my other question…what benefits come from going exclusive, vs non exclusive? All we’ve been told, is this

Designs exclusive to the Glowforge Catalog may enjoy additional benefits, including higher earnings and special promotional features.

That’s still super vague, and not enough to convince me. Just being told it’s more better isn’t gonna cut it. I don’t think anyone even knows how much non exclusive designs get. I’m sure GF has their reasons not to tell us, but in other business relationships (of peddling my wares) it’s all been pretty clear…this, for that.

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I really appreciate the great questions here! I went back to the team to make sure I got the details right for you.

First, to reiterate what you know (but may be helpful to anyone else reading this looking for an answer)… here’s the background of the exclusive agreement.

If you submit a design under exclusive license, you agree that
• You may not sell, offer, or make your design (physical and digital) available anywhere else.
• You must not have any pre-existing arrangements to offer your design anywhere else.
• You may continue to use their design for personal/non-commercial purposes.
• Your customers can sell what they make without mentioning your authorship. In addition, they can change the design before they do.

So you are correct that when you make it exclusive, you are saying: subscribers can sell this, and I won’t.

For comparison, imagine a comedian coming up with jokes for Stephen Colbert. They basically get paid to make him funny! And the next day, people all over the world are telling that joke to each other.

But that comedian can’t tell that joke in their standup routine.

It’s the same idea here. If you, the creator of the design, are on the internet advertising that this famous design is yours and people can buy it from you… then it’s yours. People are going to buy it from you; why would they buy it from another Glowforge owner when you’re the creator? But the exclusives program gives entrepreneurial Glowforge owners a chance to take an exclusive design and feel like it’s theirs, without competing with the creator of the design.

So - if you want to sell your designs, please submit them! They’ll be non-exclusive for people to print and enjoy.

If you want to design for the world, to be the “secret weapon” behind a thousand Glowforge-powered businesses, and take the increased rewards that come with it… that’s great too! Let us know that you want to make it exclusive.

We’re experimenting with and evolving this constantly, which is why we’re not making any promises. That said, last month about half of the designs were exclusives, and the best performing exclusive design had about a 50% higher royalty payment than the best performing non-exclusive design.

But to be clear, we don’t want to persuade anyone to make anything exclusive - if they’re excited about sharing it but want to keep selling it themselves at the same time, we support that!


Ok, I can see that point where I did not before, but suppose I submit a box covered in hearts in a heart shape. Are heart earrings a violation? boxes? even heart shaped boxes?

Then there is the design be “proofed” in PG materials, It takes several sheets, but you see a need for a design tweak, so several sheets more are needed to build the final design. One could have quite an investment in PG materials before submission. And designs using 1/4 in thick wood could not be submitted at all.

I really don’t want to be what I sound like to myself. I even suggested this sometime back so I love that you are doing it, but between my natural incompetence with paperwork and specific procedure I have been unable to submit anything as yet :woozy_face:

Thank you so much for responding to my questions @dan, and the way you explained (coupled with a response from @jbmanning5 above) I now understand, AND it makes sense to me!
I’m one of those people that struggles to “just follow the rules”, if the rules don’t appear logical. I have this need to understand things (which can get me in to trouble sometimes :grimacing:).

And, I actually have decided to submit some exclusive designs (whaaaaa??)! Haha! I talked it over with my husband, and he reminded me that my end game is to be a designer, and not be the one at the farmers market anymore, so, I’m going to work more towards that and see where this goes with Glowforge.

Thanks again to those who responded!


I am happy you have made this decision, and I look forward to seeing your submissions in the catalog.

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Thanks! I actually already have some in the catalog, just no exclusive ones yet…but I have a bunch I’ve been working on that should be submitted today or tomorrow :grin: (they are inspired by one of my favourite design eras!)

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I’m going to close this thread now - please post or email support if you have any other questions.

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