Using Canva Content licenses without Copyright issues

How to use photos, music, and video files on Canva for commercial and noncommercial purposes:

You can use photos, music, and video files from Canva’s free library in commercial and noncommercial projects. Attribution is not required but appreciated. You can modify the files, and use them in unlimited printed materials, online publications, and other projects. Do not resell unaltered copies as stock files, imply endorsement, or redistribute on stock media platforms.

Canva provides a vast library of photos, videos, audio clips, and other media that users can utilize in their designs. However, with such a wealth of content comes questions around copyright and licensing. This article explores how to legally and ethically use Canva’s free media under the terms of their Free Media License Agreement.

Canva’s Free Media License Overview

Canva grants users the right to use media from their free library for both commercial and non-commercial purposes without the need for attribution. This includes modifying the media and incorporating it into original Canva designs.

However, there are some prohibited uses outlined in Canva’s license that users should be aware of. Let’s look at what’s allowed and not allowed when working with Canva’s free stock content.

Permitted Uses of Canva’s Free Media

  • Using media in commercial or non-commercial Canva designs
  • Modifying/editing media (cropping, filter, etc.)
  • Selling finished designs containing media on merchandise or as digital products
  • Transferring designs with media to clients

Prohibited Uses of Canva’s Free Media

  • Reselling unaltered copies as stock files
  • Implying endorsement from brands/people shown
  • Redistributing on other stock media sites
  • Using content marked “Editorial Only” for ads/promotion
  • Offensive, defamatory, illegal, or unethical use

Key Aspects of the Free Media License

  • Media is protected by copyright but licensed for unlimited Canva use
  • Non-exclusive, perpetual license provided by Canva
  • Users can terminate license by stopping use of media
  • Canva can terminate license if terms violated
  • Canva may change terms at any time

By staying within these permitted uses and avoiding prohibited uses, you can feel confident using Canva’s free media legally!

Working with Protected Images and Trademarks

Some images in Canva’s library feature identifiable people, places, logos, and other trademarks or proprietary content. Users should take care when incorporating this type of protected media into designs to avoid potential copyright or trademark issues.

Avoiding Offensive Use of Images

Never use an image in an offensive, misleading, or unethical way that could malign the reputation of brands/people displayed. Always respect the rights and privacy of those shown.

Seeking Permission and Releases

If featuring someone’s likeness prominently or using trademarks extensively, consider seeking a property release or permission to mitigate legal risks.

Following Brand Guidelines

When incorporating logos or brands, respect their trademark rights and follow all brand style guide restrictions. Don’t distort or alter trademarks without permission.

Checking Editorial Use Only Labels

Media marked for editorial use may have further restrictions. Avoid using such images in advertising or commercial contexts without verifying rights.

With caution and common sense, you can incorporate protected images appropriately in your Canva work. But if unsure, an alternative free stock image may be a safer choice.

Legally Using Canva Elements in Commercial Projects

Canva allows both Free and Pro users to utilize the platform’s design elements in commercial projects, products, and services. However, there are guidelines users must follow to avoid potential copyright infringement.

Selling Original Canva Designs

You can legally sell a finished Canva design on merchandise, post it online for download, or sell it as a digital product like an eBook cover or social media graphic. But the design must represent an original creative work with your additions.

Creating and Selling Templates

Existing Canva templates cannot be resold as standalone products. However, you can use elements from templates in new designs to create and sell your own templates containing original content.

Licensing Pro Content

Unedited Pro images, fonts, and elements require separate licenses for each commercial design. A Canva subscription provides the needed licenses automatically.

Registering Trademarks and Logos

Avoid registering logos or trademarks created fully with Canva templates and elements, which remain Canva’s intellectual property. Add unique branding to establish trademark rights.

Securing Audio Licenses for Online Advertising

Canva offers several Pro-level audio tracks that can add impact to videos and other designs. Users must secure the proper Canva audio licenses based on distribution method.

Using Audio in Online Video Ads

Canva audio tracks can be used legally in online video advertisements on sites like YouTube and Facebook without needing a direct license. But confirm platform policies for any limitations.

Licensing Audio for Traditional Media Ads

Using Canva audio in television, radio, or print ads published on paid/managed channels requires securing a direct sync license through Canva for each track used.

Audio in Monetized Social Media Content

If monetizing videos with Canva music via YouTube Partner programs, Facebook monetization, etc., verify the platform’s policies and get needed licensing.

Verifying Licenses for Social Sharing

Always independently verify licenses for any third-party tracks before uploading Canva videos with audio to social sites. Confirm licenses permit social distribution to avoid take-downs.

By double checking required Canva licenses and platform policies for audio usage, you can protect your advertising content from copyright issues.

Consequences of Copyright Violation

Adhering to Attribution and license Guidelines

Using elements like icons, illustrations, and images from Canva’s library typically doesn’t require attribution to the original creator. However, following copyright best practices is advised:

Providing Attribution When Possible

Though not obligated, sharing attribution for creators of Canva elements is encouraged – especially when used in editorial or journalistic content.

Avoiding Copyright Removal

Never remove existing copyright management information or creator credits from Canva assets before incorporating into your own designs.

Complying with Third Party Licenses

Some Canva elements may include third party content with distinct terms for attribution or use. Always comply with credited licenses and info.

Seeking Consent for Sensitive Use

If using Canva elements like personal images in sensitive ways beyond their original intent, consider seeking consent from the creator out of courtesy.

With thoughtful copyright practices, you can avoid misusing Canva’s content while also showing respect to contributing artists.

Exercising Caution When Sharing Canva Designs Publicly

When publishing your Canva creations containing free or Pro elements on sites like YouTube or Instagram, be mindful of potential copyright risks:

Verifying Third Party Content

Double check any incorporated images, video clips, or audio tracks from outside Canva to ensure they are licensed for your type of public sharing and commercial use if applicable.

Confirming Music Licenses

Review music licenses before sharing a Canva video on social media to avoid copyright claims. Music policies can differ between platforms.

Monitoring Comments

Stay on top of notifications and comments on published Canva content. Remove any materials if contacted by a rights holder over improper use.

Securing Model and Property Releases

If a Canva design prominently features a person or private property, secure appropriate releases protecting you legally in case of unauthorized use disputes.

Maintaining Copyright Notice

Keep Canva’s embedded copyright details on published designs to confirm you are legally using their licensed elements.

Staying vigilant around copyright protections when sharing publically is crucial for avoiding legal headaches. Reach out to rights holders with any licensing questions.

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Tips for Legally Using Canva’s Media Library

Using media legally from Canva’s extensive content library simply takes understanding permitted uses under the Free Media License Agreement, exercising caution around protected trademarks and images, securing any needed licenses, and properly attributing creators. With this knowledge, you can access Canva’s creative resources freely and fairly.

Permitted Uses– Use in commercial/non-commercial Canva designs
– Modify and edit media
– Sell finished designs with media
– Transfer designs with media to clients
Prohibited Uses– Resell unaltered copies as stock
– Imply endorsement of brands/people
– Redistribute on other stock sites
– Use “Editorial Only” content in ads
– Offensive, illegal, defamatory use
Protected Images– Avoid offensive use
– Seek permissions/releases
– Follow brand guidelines
– Check for “Editorial Only” restrictions
Commercial Use– Sell original Canva designs
– Create/sell templates with original content
– License Pro content properly
– Add unique branding to Canva logos/trademarks
Audio Licenses– Verify licenses for online video ads
– Get sync licenses for traditional media ads
– Check monetized social media policies
– Confirm licenses permit social sharing
Attribution– Provide credit when possible
– Don’t remove copyright details
– Comply with credited licenses
– Seek consent for sensitive use
Public Sharing– Verify licenses for non-Canva media
– Confirm music licenses
– Monitor comments for rights concerns
– Secure releases as needed
– Maintain Canva copyright details

Consequences of Copyright Violation

While Canva provides flexible use of its free library, there can be serious repercussions for abusing licenses or ignoring copyright law:

Removal of Content

Canva may revoke access to media or terminate account entirely if license terms are violated or infringement claims are filed.

Loss of Income

Copyright holders can issue takedown notices against monetized content using media improperly, resulting in lost ad revenue or sales.

Legal Action

In cases of willful or extensive copyright violation, owners may pursue legal action with threats of injunctions, lawsuits, and substantial statutory damages.

Reputational Damage

Beyond monetary and legal consequences, copyright misuse can cause lasting damage to a brand’s reputation and public trust.

Understanding the gravity of potential effects makes following Canva’s Fair Use restrictions critically important. If in doubt on any media usage, reach out to Canva’s support team for guidance.


With great power comes great responsibility. Canva grants amazing creative freedom in remixing and reimagining content for original work. But exercising that freedom ethically by honoring licenses and avoiding misuse fosters creativity and innovation all can enjoy. So use Canva’s elements wisely and legally to bring your visions to life!

Frequently Asked Questions About Using Canva Content Legally

Using media elements from Canva’s library may seem straightforward, but there are important legal considerations around copyright and licensing to keep in mind. This FAQ answers common questions about properly adhering to Canva’s policies and avoiding copyright infringement.

What is allowed under Canva’s Free Media License?

Canva grants all users the right to use photos, graphics, video clips, and other media from their free library for unlimited commercial or non-commercial purposes without needing attribution. You can modify the media and incorporate it into Canva designs.

Are there any prohibited uses of Canva’s free media?

Yes. The license prohibits reselling unaltered copies as stock files, implying endorsement from individuals/brands shown, redistributing on stock media sites, using “Editorial Only” content for ads/promotions, and offensive, illegal, defamatory or unethical use.

Do I need a license to use Canva elements in commercial projects?

You can legally use both free and Pro elements from Canva in commercial products and services without separate licenses. However, Pro content requires licenses to remove watermarks, and restrictions apply when registering trademarks and reselling templates.

Can I use Canva’s music and audio tracks in online ads?

Yes, Canva audio can be used legally in online video advertisements without needing a license, as long as you comply with any platform restrictions. But for traditional media ads, sync licenses are required.

Do I have to attribute Canva if I use their design elements?

Attribution is not required by Canva for use of their free or Pro media and templates. However, providing credit is encouraged where possible, especially for Canva elements used in editorial content.

What are some tips for avoiding copyright issues with protected images?

Take extra care when using images with identifiable people, logos, or trademarks. Avoid offensive use that could malign reputations. Seek permissions when featuring individuals prominently or alter trademarks only with brand approval.

Can I get in legal trouble for misusing Canva content?

Yes. Copyright infringement carries serious legal and financial consequences. Canva may revoke access or terminate accounts for violations. Copyright holders can also issue takedowns of published content and pursue legal action for extensive unauthorized use.

What should I do if I have questions about licensing Canva content?

If ever unsure about the permitted usage of a Canva element or run into rights concerns around trademarks or property releases, reach out directly to Canva’s support team for guidance. They can provide specific advice for your situation to ensure proper licensing.

How can I make sure I’m legally covered when sharing Canva designs publicly?

Verify any non-Canva media has licenses allowing your type of sharing, confirm music licenses permit public and commercial use, monitor comments for rights concerns, secure releases if featuring identifiable people/property prominently, and maintain Canva’s embedded copyright details.

What are some best practices for ethically using Canva’s media library?

Provide attribution to creators when you can, respect any credited third party licenses or restrictions, avoid removing existing copyright details, seek consent for sensitive uses of personal content beyond original intent, exercise caution around protected marks and images, and contact Canva with any usage questions.

By understanding Canva’s licensing policies, verifying rights for incorporated media, and adhering to copyright best practices, you can access Canva’s amazing content library freely while avoiding legal issues! Let their resources empower your creativity.

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Last modified: November 8, 2023

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