How to ask for permission to use graphics in your printables
If you intend to use purchased graphics in your digital products, a great habit to get in to is getting explicit written permission from the website owner, designer or company employees that you can legally use their graphics in your designs.
Sure, it takes a little bit of effort to get that permission, but it means that you have something to refer back to and show the graphics company should they ever question your usage of their graphics in the future.
What needs to go in the email?
It’s completely up to you what you decide to write in the email. Here’s an example of what I send:
(Feel free to use this as inspiration for your own email messages, but make sure you change all the appropriate details – and be sure you link to one of your OWN products, not mine!)
Do I REALLY need to write all that?
Here’s a breakdown of everything I include in my email, as well as why each paragraph is included.
- The message starts with a friendly introduction
- I let them know that I’m a potential customer (so they know that this is not a spam email and continue reading)
- I explain what I intend to do with their products, and where I will be selling my designs. If you will be selling your downloads on multiple websites,
include them all here – including your own website, if you have one.
- I explicitly state that I sell my designs on an online marketplace, as some artists prohibit you from using their graphics on products that you sell through multi-vendor websites, or they might require you to purchase an additional license in order to be allowed to sell on marketplace websites.
- I give an example of one of my products, so they can see exactly what is that I do.
- I ask about a specific license on their website. This shows that I have done my research into their terms and conditions.
- I ask about whether their license allows me to purchase one set of graphics (e.g. snowman clip art) and use that on multiple designs. This is an important question to ask because some websites make you re-purchase graphics for every product that you make, which would be unfeasible for me as it would mean I spent more on the graphics than I’ll ever make back.
- I ask if they have any further questions and make it clear that I’m happy to answer any that they have. This shows that I’m approachable and someone that they might want to do business with.
- Lastly, a semi-formal but still friendly sign-off ends the message on a positive note.
What happens next?
I save copies of all contact messages or emails that I send in a folder on my computer (you can just paste the text into a text editor or Word document and save it), along with the dates that each message was sent.
When I get a reply, that also goes into the document.
I have three folders on my computer – one for outstanding requests, one for websites where I can use the graphics, and one for the websites that have said I can’t use their graphics for card making downloads.
It’s important to keep responses saved, especially for websites that have said YES – just in case any issues arise in the future. For email responses from the website/designer, rather than just copy-and-pasting the email text, take a screenshot of the whole email so it includes the time and date it was send and the email address it came from.
What if I don’t get a reply?
I usually wait around two weeks for a response to my query. If I haven’t received anything back after that time, I send a follow up email.
It’s important to keep this friendly, and to try not to ‘blame’ the website owner for not replying to you. After all, everyone is busy, and it’s easy for a message to slip through the cracks and not get replied to.
Here’s an example of what I send:
(Yes, I add a cheeky comment about all the sales they will get if they respond to my message – nothing like adding in a good incentive for them to respond!!)
If I don’t get a response to this email, I usually just accept that this was not meant to be, and add the website to my ‘do not purchase from these websites’ list.
For sites where I really like the graphics, I try again after a couple of months to hopefully get a response then.
Do I HAVE to send these emails?
Nope. But like I said earlier, it’s good practice to get into.
Disclaimer: I am neither a lawyer nor a copyright specialist. Nothing in this article should be taken as legal advice. It is up to you to ensure any graphics that you use, whether personally or commercially, are fully compliant with copyright laws. If in doubt, consult a copyright lawyer or solicitor. Neither I nor my company hold any responsibility for (and are not liable for) any copyright issues that you may encounter.
If you believe any of the information in this article to be incorrect, outdated or misleading, please get in touch with your concerns.