Angel Policies are of the devil!

May 15, 2009
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As I get more and more serious about starting my own papercrafting business, I learn more and more about things I either need to do or need to be aware of. And just this last week I became aware of a very important, but very inhibiting, item that now limits my creativity…and will limit my ability to sell my creations later on: Angel Policies.

Ugh, I cringe just saying it. Angel Policies. *gag* For those of you that are new to the business side of papercrafting, an Angle Policy is basically a limited license for crafters, such as myself, to use certain designs and images on items we create with the intention of selling for profit. Which means that just because I created a great card, invitation, scrapbook page, or whatever, it doesn’t mean I have the permission to sell those items.

Now, Angel Policies will differ greatly between various crafting companies. And when I say “greatly”, I mean “GREATLY”. There are some crafting companies with fantastic Angel Policies, saying that if you purchased their products and want to use them to create items you intend to sell, then go for it! As long as you don’t mechanically reproduce their designs or images, then you can make and sell to your heart’s content. Then there are those companies with the most ridiculous Angel Policies that not only tell you how to use their products and limit the quantity of items you can create for commercial purposes, but also require that you send in a request form stating which images you plan on using, for what type of item you plan on using those images, and how many items you plan to make in order to obtain their written permission. It’s seriously crazy how varying the degrees of limitation are between different companies. I honestly have no clue how one would keep up with ALL of the different craft companies that exist and their respective Angel Policies. It would drive anybody nuts! It’s driving me nuts! I know I’ve already spent HOURS researching the Angel Policies of the companies whose products I use the most. And I’ve barely scratched the surface of this touchy subject among the crafting community.

I would have to say one of the most disappointing Angel Policy discoveries for me has been that of Provo Craft, the makers of my prized Cricut Expression paper cutting machine. I was uber stoked to purchase my Cricut, thinking it would save me from countless hours of cutting out various shapes and designs. I had also planned on purchasing a Cuttlebug Machine, another Provo Craft product, for the purpose of dry embossing paper to add texture to my stationery. But after reading their very thorough, and lengthy, Angel Policy, I am having some major second thoughts. Here are some of the finer points of their Angel Policy (taken from their Cricut website) along with my interpretation of their legal jargon:
2. Any craftwork to be sold must not incorporate third-party copyrighted material. The craftwork must contain only Provo Craft products that are sold under the Provo Craft trademark.
Interpretation: If you’re using a Provo Craft product with designs/images from a third-party such as Disney, Sesame Street, or other designers they use, you can’t sell it. (They should really hire someone to monitor ebay for infringement on this policy alone. You can find hundreds of postings from people selling Disney cutouts they made from their Cricut machines. I’m serious. Check it out.) And get this…If you’re using PC products/designs for any item, the ENTIRE item must contain ONLY PC products. No mixing and matching allowed!
3. The individual may sell or distribute personal craftwork at local community fundraisers, seasonal boutiques or bazaars, or other temporary craft events.  Personal craftwork incorporating Provo Craft copyrighted material cannot be sold at a fixed retail location such as a store or mall kiosk, left in a store on consignment, or sold to other parties for subsequent resale, or sold via the Internet.
Interpretation: Selling items made using PC designs wholesale is a no no. Selling online is a no no (goodbye Etsy!). And don’t even think about selling your stuff in a store or other permanent locations. If it isn’t a craft fair, boutique, street fair, or TEMPORARY setup, don’t even bother.
4. The use of the copyrighted material to be sold with a product, to enhance a product or to design a product on a regional or national level or for any mass production is expressly prohibited hereunder and requires a written licensing agreement with Provo Craft. (The definition of mass produced is more than fifty copies reproduced within a thirty day period of any one design or more than 200 copies per year of any one design. Multi-person ****embly-line work counts as mass production.)
Interpretation: You can’t make more than a quantity of 50 of any item within a period of one month. i.e. If you’re making a card using PC designs/products, you can only make and sell 50 of that card within the period of one month. And you can’t make/sell that card more than 200 times in a year. You can’t have help making your cards since that counts as mass production. Oh, and one more thing. You can’t sell nationally. Or regionally for that matter. Doesn’t that mean you can’t sell at all?
8. Wherever possible, each item using or incorporating Provo Craft’s copyrighted material must be marked with “Includes Copyrighted Material of Provo Craft and Novelty, Inc.” in a reasonable size and location that gives reasonable notice.
Interpretation: Make sure that quoted phrase is on every item you make using their stuff. And make sure it’s in a place where it will be noticed and in a size that can be read. Can you imagine seeing that on the back of every card you make? Yipes!

And that’s only four of the TWELVE conditions listed in their Angel Policy. Honestly, if not for creating scrapbook pages or cards for personal use, I’d probably just sell my Cricut since it no longer offers any benefit to my business. I thought purchasing that thing would be an investment in my business venture. Turns out I was very, VERY wrong. All I have to say is I better crank out some freaking awesome scrapbooks and shadow boxes with that thing or hubby will be mad that he paid the money to buy that darned thing for me!

But Provo Craft is not the only company with such a lengthy and specific Angel Policy. Which makes me thankful for those companies who offer us crafters free reign with their products. Those are the true “angels” in my book. Those are the companies from which I will gladly be purchasing from here on out.

Yet as much as Angel Policies frustrate me, I understand why they have been put in place. Each company values their products and designs and they want to protect the designers behind their products. Especially with rubber stamps, I know I wouldn’t be too thrilled to see someone making bank off of cards using my stamp design. But at the same time, as long as a crafter gives credit where credit is due, you’d think that a company or designer would only get more publicity out of someone selling items using their designs or products. I mean, when I see a card I really like in a magazine, I ALWAYS look up the company that makes the stamp or the paper used and have even purchased the same stamps or papers for creating my own crafts. But a copyright is what it is, right?

To be honest, I never really thought about having to deal with such “legality”. I figured that as long as I created an item by hand, I would have the right to sell it. Boy was I wrong! But I’m glad I learned about all of this now, before setting up any sort of real transactions or shop. I don’t even remember how I came across my first Angel Policy. I was probably researching some crafting items online…as usual. And now that I know about Angel Policies, I am being much more cautious about what products I purchase for use in my crafts and creations.

For those of you who are, like me, just now learning about Angel Policies, here are some great websites I found with information on Angel Policies, as well as lists of various craft companies and their respective Angel Policies. Take it from me, make sure to do your research before you buy!
- A fairly extensive list of companies and their Angel Policies taken from a SplitCoastStampers.com forum
- Another list of companies and their Angel Policies from LittleBit.com
- About.com article regarding Angel Companies and Policies
- Another article from About.com
- A blog post with Angel Policy listings taken from Paperlicious’s blog.

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5 Responses to Angel Policies are of the devil!

  1. Barbara on July 16, 2009 at 6:20 am

    Thank you for this information. I have purchased many beautiful papers only to find I cannot use them for resale. I am not a scrapbooker just a papercrafter so it seems I have wasted a lot of money.

  2. admin on July 16, 2009 at 9:30 am

    Barbara, I’m glad I was able to help you out even just a little bit with some of this info. I definitely understand your frustration with purchasing products that we can’t use for resale. I am much more careful now about which companies’ products I purchase for my crafts.

  3. irene on January 5, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Thank you very much for this information. Like you, I just started my research for building a business. This information help me a lot.

  4. Funmi on March 4, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Your article expresses my feelings perfectly! I am still in the process of planning my business which should include bookmarks, accessories such as keyrings etc. and jewellery. The more I saw the rubber and texture stamp designs of various companies, the more excited I got and the more product designs I made. Then I found about the ‘A’ policy. (I am a christian and this name contradicts what an angel is!) The idea of this policy is understandable but it goes too farrrrr! I have a list of about 120 companies whose policies I have to check BEFORE buying any stamps from them! So far, HAMPTON ARTS seems ok. Can’t imagine paying so much for stamps with controlled and restricted use. Now to find out this policy applies to designed papers too, (as Barbara wrote), means that I have to re-think and carefully plan my projects. Many thanks for sharing.

  5. Carole Tiep on November 23, 2011 at 9:28 am

    After purchasing several crafting machines, punches, and stamps, I also found myself buried under layers of angel policies. Since I’m serious about my small business idea, I am selling off many of these items and using the money to invest in AccuCut products. Their die-cuts are intended for use by craft businesses. They will also make custom dies for me. There is sticker shock in my studio, but I am buying only during sales, and slowly building the stable of dies I require. I am of course upset that I have invested so much time and money in materials and dies that I cannot use, but what really floors me are the angel policies for paper.
    Another thing I did not think about was protecting my own original work, I have already had one design copied and sold at an event where I had a booth. Sigh!

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