Sorry this is probably a stupid clipart question thats been asked before

so I’m “planning” on trying an etsy store finding royalty free “true” royalty free clipart is a bit more of a challenge than I expected seems everyone owns every image these days used to be a bit easier 20 years ago. But I’m rambling sorry

Question is I’m looking at shutterstock 2.90 an image give or take. Fine I dont need a hundred I need 10 good ones for now. but I’m looking threw and they have a bunch of Disney clipart. Now I know for a fact that Disney is gonna make a whole new hole in your body for lawyers to use to siphon the life out of you if you use a Disney character on something an put it say on etsy.

So how are “they” selling those images? and are they for personal use only? seems odd you can just grab any ol image from pretty much anywhere if it’s for personal use disney isn’t gonna come looking threw my house for the pencil case I made for myself as long as I dont sell it I dont need to buy it.

I know I could probably find the info on shutterstock but I’ve looked threw there legal jargon and had zero success probably cause I’m not the sharpest crayon in the box but thats fine.

Anyway I KNOW these questions come up all the time I’ve looked a bit threw answers and either I’m asking different or I’m missing other answers so I apologize if it’s just a repeat question.

I know Im not the only one that came against this living in south florida using a bit of disney would be nice and if I go to a local show nobody is gonna say anything disney isn’t everywhere lol but anything on etsy seems like I’m asking for trouble I dont want but if the are selling the images seems like you should have the right to use it. but i"m probably wrong.

the issue is you are selling ‘licensed’ stuff, and the ‘license’ is for a specific thing, you can get away with the ears and the hands, but anything more is crossing that ‘line’ you can do Disney ‘inspired’ items, as long as you create them yourself (ears and a castle) but when you download ‘stock’ stuff it is very specific what it can be used for, I’m sorry.

well thats what I figured seemed kind of odd that shutterstock is allowed to commercially sell them though

how about a multilayered frame of walking into main street, with ‘a’ castle in the distance, and people holding balloons, etc in the foreground.

Copyright protections do not extend to “derivative artwork”. This does include using the original artwork provided it is incorporated in to the new artwork in a unique and non-infringing way. I don’t remember the details, but my wife was the administrator for the visual and performing arts department of a university for about a decade and dealt with this kind of issue all the time.


yes, its a ‘licensed’ Disney product, Disney licenses out Disney stuff to everybody. as long as you pay you can play.

to spooky for me lol Again a local deal thats fine which we have weekly here and they are always packed with tourists but anything on a website like etsy I think I’m gonna completely stay away from.

Gonna have to build a good booth though thats intimidating all in itself. gonna have to do some research on that.

how about GF engraving Disney stuff, like the wrist bands?
(do they still do that?) personalizing stuff they bring you???

If you have Premium on here they give you commercial license for using the clipart at the noun project on physical items.

Basically if you buy the rights to a piece of art, and then someone come knocking saying you can’t use that - you can show proof that you have a license (which is what would happen with the Shutterstock stuff). Shutterstock pays for pass-through license of some sort. I’m gonna guess that buried in the legaleze is a “you must say you got it from here” portion - which is what the (in this example) Disney lawyers would be looking for. You generally don’t get the rights to use the Shutterstock image in a different medium.


Rights and licenses vary and are VERY specific. There’s no shortcut for careful reading of the specific terms for the product and usage you’re interested in. (I deal with shutterstock regularly, its worth taking to one of their reps to work out the right licensing for your needs)


I just did a quick search through Shutterstock for Disney, and quite a bit pops up.

The big gotcha here is that each image I spot checked is listed as Editorial Use Only. If you’re writing a story or a blog about Disney, you’re good to go. If you’re looking to make a product, advertise a product, etc. with the image, you’ll be in for a world of hurt at some point down the road.


You want to search for the terms ‘copyright’, and in the case of Disney and other major brands, ‘trademark infringement’ as well. Ethics and the risk of getting caught aside, it’s still theft if you pay someone for the stolen artwork/photos and the obligation to use it legally falls to the buyer, and the excuse that they paid a thief for it won’t fly in court, especially with artwork so easily recognizable like Disney. And just for informational purposes, using someone else’s artwork/designs/characters et al for even personal use is still technically copyright theft and the owner of that work can still make a case against it. Most companies make allowances for and tolerate “fan art” and companies like Marvel and DC Comics even encourage it to some degree, but there are some that will come after people for using their work for absolutely anything. (I’m looking at you Harley Davidson :eyeglasses: lol) Again, I’m not saying I don’t use other people’s work for private projects and I don’t have an issue with it, but just pointing out the actual legality of it, because the ‘for personal use’ myth is so prevalent and misunderstood.

As far as shutterstock goes, like @jbmanning5 said, all major brands are subject to editorial use only and they are not for commercial use. You’ll also find lots of sites will tell you their images are for commercial use, but they’re just liars making a buck off you, and you’re the one who’d take the hit for it if caught. One thing folks on Etsy seem to do when selling look-alike work is avoiding trigger word such as “Mickey Mouse”, and instead they use “cute mouse”. etc., so if you want to design something to sell that has a Disney feel to it but isn’t copyright theft, just make sure to avoid using trigger words and you should be OK.

Something else to look into is the term ‘derivative work’ which is taking a part of someone else’s work and incorporating it into your own work. There’s a lot of misconception and confusion around it too and it isn’t the free-for-all that it can be made out to be. There is no set percentage that you have to change the work to make it legal, and the basic premise is the original work can not be recognizable in the new derivative work, and even that is pretty much decided on a case by case basis in court; for every case where some guy got away with absolutely stealing work from someone, there is a poor artist who lost in court for even using a photo as inspiration for their work done in a different medium.

Here’s some info about trademarked brands being submitted to shutterstock


well said. thanks


not to be argumentative at all but isn’t EVERYTHING we do or nearly everything we do derived from someone’s work? If i make a model home I’m typically taking a home that I’ve seen and making it into a model or at least parts of it and most or 90 percent of homes designs are copywrited in some form. Cant remember the case but there is a basketball star a year or something ago that has a copy wright on a letter something like the letter M or something and sent a slew of lawsuits out suing companies that used the letter M. thats why we have so may bad movies about frankenstein drakula and zombies because when they were created they didn’t copy wright back then.

Again all my question was really was fairly simple I know you cant use micky mouse in a piece of art or whatever but just seems odd that shutter stock has dysney images on there site that apparently the only use for them is for a birthday card or something that your going to give your mom or whatever in which case what is the purpose of the site why not just go to a disney website and take it directly yourself.

Anyway whatever not to worried about it dont like the company Disney anyway lol just found the wording on there site vague at best why not just a simple disclaimer that states “for personal use only” seems fairly simple to me.

I know there is some cross-over, but I think you’re interchanging terms and no, not everything we do is a derivative of someone else’s work because “derivative work” isn’t about using the same themes or ideas like where a kitchen should go, how big a closet should be or how to draw a vampire, it’s about stealing someone’s unique and recognizable expression of those things. There’s really nothing to argue either because it’s not about what we think/feel about it, it’s just about the law and the law is very clear that people can’t steal the imagery/work from some else and use it for anything outside what is considered “fair use”, and fair use is well-defined. And AFAIK, zombies and Dracula aren’t trademarked and they’re in the public domain, so you can make all the zombie movies you want without repercussions as long as you don’t violate copyright and use someone else’s physical expression of a those characters. (And FWIW, I originally brought all that up because you said you couldn’t find any previous info about it, so I thought you just might not know the terms to search for, and I was just trying to help you out n case you wanted to look it up.)

As far as shutterstock goes, saying they’re for personal use wouldn’t cover all the legal fair-use ways they can be used, so maybe that’s why they do it like they do, but that’s just a WAG. :woman_shrugging:t2:

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