GFI image library copyright

I recently used an image from the GFI image library and made some earrings to sell on Etsy. They were very popular. Today, I got a letter from Etsy saying that they took my listing down because of copyright infringement. I am sad about this because I thought that since I pay for the image library and it claims to have a commercial license for the images, that they were safe to use. I am wondering how many other images are in the GFI library that are going to be taken down if stumbled upon by the wrong person. How does GF handle this issue?

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One of two possibilities that I can think of.

Someone contacted Etsy thinking that your earring design was too close to their earring design, and theirs was listed there before yours was. (If you both used the same image, that’s easy to do.) For that situation, you would want to appeal the decision from Etsy and prove that you actually created your own design. Then the person who filed the claim will need to prove that they actually created their own design, AND that they actually created the image. Otherwise, neither of you has sole claim to the image. (And Etsy should reinstate yours.)

The second situation is that someone listed an image on The Noun Project that they did not create, and that was the image in question. If the original creator of the image happened to see his/her creation on Etsy, then “The Noun Project” has an issue with verifying ownership before selling them to Glowforge for use, and they should be the ones who take it down after verifying.

But, Glowforge might want to take it down as well, while it is disputed, so you might want to send them a picture of the “exact” image that you used…maybe they can block it or take it down for now.

I should probably point out that the copyright claims folks at Etsy might not be aware that there are going to be a lot of entries that look exactly alike now, because there are about 15,000 people accessing the same pool of images. They might need to rethink their methods for determining what is and isn’t copyright infringement. (Usually takes a lot longer to implement that kind of internal change though, so your other two direct options are going to be quicker.)

In any case, we don’t have examples to go by yet, so good luck with whatever route you take. It’s certainly worth the time to dispute the removal. (Usually just a letter to Etsy first, explaining how you created the design, and asking them to look into it further.)


Thank you for your response. But I’m afraid the one that complained has a legitimate claim. Linked to the claim is the website where the is image is used many times. I knew that the icon had meaning, but I was unaware of the copyright that was held on it and how much it is actually used in the artwork they do.

Was it sourced through the images on the Glowforge interface? (I might have misunderstood the situation.)

If it’s a legitimate claim by the original owner, then GF will definitely want to take it down. (And probably notify The Noun Project so they can take it down too.)

Yes, that is where it was sourced from. Apparently, the original owner is huge and owns tons of copyrights. GF should take it down. My concern is that what other images in the GFI are copyrighted and we don’t know. I have already gotten my hand slapped today and Etsy has been known to take down whole shops for repeat offenders. I simply cannot afford that.

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Definitely send them a picture of the specific image so they can identify it then. Bummer.

(But keep in mind, that even if the person who filed the claim against you has the image all over his website, unless he created the image, it’s not his to file a copyright claim for.)

Hang on …got an emergency phone call…

Okay, sorry…my mom is having a temporary emotional crisis. I think we’ve got it squared. :smile:

Anyway…good luck with it.


As Jules noted, there’s a chain of custody.

You got the image from Glowforge with the understanding that it was licensed for commercial use.
→ Glowforge got it from a service provider (most likely under a license that allows for redistribution to you for commercial use.
→ → The Noun Project got it from someone who signed as a “creator” and uploaded it to them under either a public domain or Creative Commons license (Noun Project | Handbook | Upload).
→ → → The uploader claimed that they had the right to license the original image.

Unfortunately, if someone uploads a file to The Noun Project without permission to do so, it may work its way through the chain and end up in one of your projects, and it seems like it’s pretty impractical for Glowforge to examine all 3 million icons for copyright infringement. They have to rely on the people they got them from to tell the truth.

My recommendation (I am not a lawyer) is that if something looks suspicious, don’t use it. There’s a lot of stuff in there that is pretty obviously not licensed properly.

And if you do run into trouble with something, report it to the source – it’s likely that the person who uploaded that file also contributed many others that are going to cause issues.


It might help to post a screenshot of the icon so they know what to take down. It might also help someone else.

When it comes to copyright, I agree with @chris1, you have to use your own judgement. If something seems like it is owned by any major brand, definitely do not use it commercially without clear and direct permission from that brand. But I will also add that just because someone claims copyright doesn’t mean they actually have it. You have copyright over your unique works, but there’s a lot that goes into that. For example, if I made simple ice cream cone earrings from a GFUI image and then you made nearly identical earrings, I don’t have any ownership over that image so I would have no claim. But like I said, without knowing the icon in question, it’s hard to know what’s going on.


@julietmoran613 I’m going to need to investigate this with the team and will follow up with you over email. Thanks!