How to license a file you post on this forum?

In the Design Challenge #1 topic ( Design Challenge #1 ), I posted a file with one of my designs . Design Challenge #1

I want people to be able to cut the file for themselves, remix it and play with it. But I don’t want them to be able to sell that file (or the derived works) commercially.

In my post I said: I’m releasing the file under the CC BY-NC-SA license (meaning you can share, remix and build upon it, in a non-commercial way)

Does anyone with more experience with licensing know if that disclaimer enough? Or do I need to include something with the file somehow (in a Zip file perhaps)?



I’d go in with the certain knowledge that if it and its derivatives are popular enough, at some point it will meet with a person that just does not care.

That said, if you still want to share, I’d put the files within some type of package such as an install executable that would force the person to acknowledge the licence agreement. I don’t have a link but there are packages like this that are licenced under the CC so all you’d have to do is the same as you are asking of others.


This is the internet, ive seen much worse happen. There was a group that started selling prints on ebay and other places of all the 3d files on thingiverse it could get its hands on.

I used to do semi-pro photography back in the day, and was posting my stuff online until I found out people were buying the prints, scanning them, and selling them as stock art or in calendars etc.

I stopped posting so many easily copiable things online


The problem with packaging the file with some sort of IP claim is that the protected file itself can get passed along by someone who has already unpackaged it. The recipient may never see the disclaimer. It seems very difficult for small creators to protect their work.


I would maybe try to put the CC info into the file itself. I was just thinking about this when I put my skully-ammo file up on the same thread.
I would also consider incorporating a signature or initials or logo into the actual designs (for your cars… maybe as an emblem or badge on the front quarter panel?) so that if they are cut as is they would always reference you. That way if someone wants to steal the design they have to do a bit more work.


I don’t mean to be discouraging, but in my experience this is a total and complete crapshoot. I would put the disclaimer on the actual file, but there’s no guarantee everyone will take it to heart. Something short and sweet, and easy to understand. Maybe something like “not for commercial use, even if altered.” I’m not really good at phrasing stuff, but you want something that doesn’t require further research, because people just won’t do it.

And guaranteed, you’re going to find your design being used in a way you don’t want. It’s inevitable. There are two ways to handle it. First, rant angrily at your screen every time you find your design on etsy being used illegally and then move on. Second, familiarize yourself with DMCA and how the whole process works. Loads of people hate on it, I know, but it really makes copyright claims quick and easy from the perspective of the copyright holder (that’s you), and allows you to protect more of your stuff than you would otherwise be able to. But, I mean, note that I didn’t say ‘all of your stuff.’ And when I say quick and easy, it’s completely relative. It’s quick and easy to file a take down notice against one person. Doing it against 100 people is a part time job. Which is where the rant and move on option comes in.

The other thing worth noting is that attaching a disclaimer that someone violates (like, by altering your design and then selling it) doesn’t automatically make you right. It makes you more likely to be right, but keep in mind that copyright violations are determined in court. Meaning you, your lawyer, and anyone else except the judge in your court case can’t really say with 100% certainty who is right. Plenty of people have lost what seem like straight forward cases.

Lastly, decide now how much you care about this. If you’re just trying to stop most people from using your design for profit, you should be fine. Most people are awesome, and won’t sell your design if you don’t want them to. If you really feel very strong about it, and seeing it used commercially would really be devastating, you’re probably better off not putting it out there.


Good idea. I actually added some text to the SVG file that says I’m the author and the license I’m hoping to apply to it.

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The other issue I have with packaging within an executable is that I won’t be able to post it in certain places (like this forum that only accepts specific file types).


I probably would never download a design packaged as an executable, even – or perhaps especially – if it were an executable for an operating system I used.


My expectation for posting to this forum, especially on a “fun challenge”, is that there would be no expectation of protected IP. I think that before you post the .svg you have to ask how much do I want to share versus if this is stolen how much will I really care? The store is different, but adding a licensing tag to every post that has a file you can cut…IDK. I loved the VW-like mini bus, especially the way you used the grain for the different body panels. And therein is what little protection you have: anyone can cut and assemble, but making it beautiful is a gift and is also where the value is added.


I don’t care a lot if it’s stolen. I’d just like to express my preferences on how someone in this forum can use the designs I create.

I prefer that no one takes my design and starts selling the design/models/kits based on it, without first asking me. I can make the assumption that no one is going to do that. Or I can spell it out explicitly with a license. It does not add a lot of overhead to just say something like “I’m releasing this under this or that CC license”.

To be honest, I would not expect anyone on this forum to just take my design and sell it. People here have been very respectful up to now. But I’ve been surprised in the past what people have done, and I prefer to make my preferences clear.

I think embedding the text right in the file is probably the right way to go.


before I dismiss anyone’s desire to restrict the use of their sweat equity or acquired knowledge, I try to think how would I feel if someone took my work and made $1 off it. I’m doing alright personally, so not so bad. Ok, so what if they took it and made $1000 off of it? yeah I could probably live with that. but $100,000 $1,000,000. There’s always some amount of money that adds up to, “hey wait a minute. You’re making money off of something I shared in good faith and now I feel ripped off.” And then I start to think well what if 10,000 people stole it and each mad $10 off it. And I’m right back to artists, workers and other creators deserve a lot of respect.


The license needs to be in the metadata so that way it will be included in the design file and always carry along, even if only the design file is transferred etc.


Good point, perhaps in file is best. Sadly there is little to stop the determined.

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Ugh, I had a big-ol’ post written up, but I decided to delete it since I’d hate to say something that isn’t true, especially where someone could get in legal trouble by believing what I’ve said. (I’m not a lawyer so not a good candidate for dispensing legal advice.)

I don’t think you’re able to restrict what people do with an object they’ve created using plans that you’ve released to the public. Not in the USA at least.

I’ve researched this topic some with regard to sewing “patterns” sold on the internet. Many of them say something like “you aren’t allowed to sell the dress made using this pattern”. It’s my understanding that a disclaimer like that has no basis in the law. The person could write “after sewing this dress you are obligated to do 15 jumping-jacks”, but that doesn’t actually mean you are required by law to do so.

I’m hoping the Glowforge store incorporates some kind of DRM to “protect” designs using something other than the perceived goodwill of their customers. They can ask people to follow whatever limitations they want, but unless there’s some kind of forced compliance (DRM) or a legal basis to enforce those limitations, we’ll probably find that those wishes will be ignored.

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My goal is not to stop the determined, that is a losing battle. My goal is to inform respectful people how I would like my designs to be used.


I wouldn’t be surprised. I knew that after information has been public for a year, a patent cannot be obtained by anyone.
That was a few decades ago, the laws may have changed.

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I think it’s a fool’s errand. Unless you’re willing to monitor Pinterest, Etsy, eBay, local craft fairs, etc., someone will take & sell your work and get away with it. @erin is spot on.

Larger operations who do that may (or may not) cease & desist if you notice & present a case that they’re stealing your work because they care about legalities. But Google Sears and Craftsman Ratchet or Black & Decker Workmate for what some large companies have done to small creators. (I have personal experience with a giant toy store chain whose giraffe copied my software & manuals including the copyright notice and put it out to bid to have someone replicate it for them. Don’t get me started on Geico’s Maxwell Pig and smartphone app that scans your new car’s VIN to get you an insurance quote. )

Your best course of action is to label it and then let the cosmos have it. Once created the GF makes it easy to be copied even without your source files. Use that as inspiration to create more. Creativity is inexhaustible and builds on our experience so everything you design just helps you design something new and better.

Just to be the devil’s advocate - did you ask for permission to copy those cars? While not direct copies of the real thing, they’re certainly derivative which is what makes them resonate with people. :wink:

Bingo. It’s an enforcement issue more than anything. One can absolutely limit how a design is used. Even though referred to here as just a license, it’s actually a license agreement - an agreement being a contract. Catching a perpetrator is more difficult in a big ol’ world. Then you have to have to have a lawyer on hand and go from there. That’s why cease and desist is the most popular first option, especially if one has limited resources, as most of us little people do.

If you’re serious about doing it though - every 3 months or so, take all of your designs and submit them together to register the copyright (it’s a flat fee so best to do it in batches).

Putting copyright and usage terms in the file metadata is a part of protecting yourself if you want to pursue something. That way it’s embedded in the file info - ignorance is not a defense.


We’re putting a lot of thought into catalog and licensing rights to balance designers’ needs with customers. If you’re posting source files, obviously a bad actor can do whatever he or she wants, but I would recommend specifying the license in the artwork of the file itself in a color that isn’t used for anything else (so it can be set to ‘ignore’ when you print with it).