Scan N Cut Saturday – Clarifying Copyright for Scan N Cut Users

Just a quick one to help clarify copyright for Scan N Cut users as there seems to be a lot of confusion out in the world right now…

What Is Copyright?

Copyright is a set of automatic rights assigned to a designer, artist, composer, or author upon creation of a literary or artistic work.

The exact rights were set out in the Berne Convention in 1886.

179 of 195 existing countries currently subscribe to the Berne Convention. A full list of countries can be seen on the WIPO website.

What Is / Is Not Covered by Copyright?

A creation is loosely broken down into three main stages.

An Idea, A Concept/Invention and A Design.

Under the Berne Convention, only the design is automatically protected.

Concepts and inventions can be patent protected however an idea cannot be protected.

This is why you can go to Google right now and search “card scoring board” and you will come across a variety of different devices from different companies that will help you score your cardstock in certain ways.

The idea of creating a board to assist crafters with scoring card cannot be protected whereas both the way in which it functions (the invention), and the overall design (the design) can be protected.

Classifying Rights for the End User

So, the creator of a design has automatic rights under the Berne Convention but what automatic rights do end-users like you and I have?

  • Personal Use – This could be a decorative project for your home or a piece of fan art. None! Check!
  • Non-Profit – This could be making things to sell on a stall to raise money for charity. None! Check!
  • Commercial – This could be making things to sell in order to make a profit, e.g. a business. None! Check!

Where Can I Find Out?

You may now be asking yourself, where can I find this information?! This information is not hidden by any stretch of the imagination.

On reputable design sharing websites (where designs are free to download) there will always be links to the Terms of Use, Angel Policy, or a Creative Commons License.

On reputable design marketplaces, (where you buy designs) license information is usual listed on the product page.

When it comes to printed works, you will likely have stumbled across the copyright page at the beginning of every single book or magazine you have come across.

With the Scan N Cut, designs created by Brother are Ok for personal, non-profit and commercial use.

With the Scan N Cut, designs licensed by Brother from other designers (like Disney) are OK for personal use only. These are generally clearly marked both in the pattern list that you can download from the support website or one the pattern collection page in Canvas Workspace.

With the Scan N Cut, scanning something does not remove it’s copyright or your responsibility to check. You still need to check that you have the appropriate rights to convert the image into an electronic format AND for the use that you plan to put it to.

So, What Am I Actually Buying?

Recently I have had some of my designs appear on other websites for sale and the seller has said that they didn’t know they couldn’t do this – they were under the impression that when they purchased the files, that they owned the files. This is not actually the case.

It is very rare that any designer will offer full resale rights to a design or design collection as this is a source of income for them and to give that away would be crazy.

So, what (in general terms) are you buying when you purchase a cutting file?

  • Are you buying ownership of the file or files? No.
  • Are you buying the right to share/pass on or resell the file or files? No.
  • Are you buying the right to use the file or files according to the license acquired at the time of purchase? YES!

It would be hard for someone to sell you the right to use the files without supplying you with the files, but this does not provide any form of ownership.

Long Story Short – Too Late!

Now, I had meant to make this simple so, here it is – if it exists, it is most likely under copyright so check that you have the right to do what you plan to do!


Right, I know that there will be people chomping at the bit wanting to throw in an exception, a spanner in the works or their belief that one right applies to another so let me say this …

  • Are there exceptions? Yes, however they are unlikely to apply to the craft world. They mostly apply to journalists and teachers who are able to take advantage of something called “fair use”.
  • Are there different laws in different countries? There are occasional nuances to the laws, however they are unlikely to assign you any automatic rights so you will still need to check!
  • Do things go out of copyright? Yes, however this term usually lasts anywhere between 50 & 95 years from either first publication, or after the authors death depending on what the work is that you want to use and copyright can sometimes be extended by the estate of the creator – so, you STILL NEED TO CHECK!

Got that!?

That’s it for this one.

Of course, ask questions, but please do remember I am not a legal advisory service, I can’t say if something is or isn’t under copyright.

Here is a video of me saying mostly the same that I wrote above.

~ Scan N Cut Online Learning Now Available! ~

Need help mastering the Brother Scan N Cut or its companion software, Canvas Workspace? I have just the thing for you!

I now have two online learning opportunities to really get to grips with these creative tools. For more information on each, just click the button below the image.

Cut, Draw & Scan with Confidence Course

New to the Scan N Cut or had it a while and are not sure that you are getting the most from your machine?

This one is for you?

Mastering Canvas Workspace Course

Mastered the Scan N Cut machine but can’t get to grips with the design software, Canvas Workspace?

This one is for you.

Mastering Canvas Workspace Promo Image

~ Come And Join Me On Facebook! ~

I have recently created a new Facebook group for Scan N Cut users so if you are interested in joining, please do head over to Gentleman Crafter’s Scan N Cut Group.

Right, that’s it for this post.

Don’t forget to check out the links/ads below for more Scan N Cut learning resources created by me.

Thanks for stopping by and hope to see you again soon.

Best wishes,


3 thoughts on “Scan N Cut Saturday – Clarifying Copyright for Scan N Cut Users

  1. Also when using stamps, papers, dies, die cuts or whatever else always look for the companies copyright to see what they allow to do with their designs. It is usually called Angel Policy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much John for making this clear. Often it is also a use of common sense when it comes to designs of someone else. Stay safe and have a wonderful day.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to Hannah Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.