3 Tips for Using Copyright Free Images on Zazzle Products For Sale

3 Tips for Using Copyright Free Images on Zazzle Products For Sale
Using public domain, copyright free images and graphics on Zazzle can be lucrative as an income source, but hazardous, if you don’t know what to check for. This article will provide 3 tips to help you ensure proper use of copyright free images and graphics on Zazzle.


3 Tips for Using Copyright Free Images on Zazzle Products For Sale

3 Tips for Using Copyright Free Images on Zazzle Products For Sale

3 Tips for Using Copyright Free Images on Zazzle Products For Sale

There are many different copyright license options for use of images and graphics on Zazzle products for re-sale.

You can:
  • use your own creative works and photography because you own the copyright
  • pay for an extended commercial use license to use images and graphics from other artists
  • source public domain images and graphics which are no longer under copyright protection

Using copyright free works is definitely more cost effective, especially when you are just starting out. But be sure to obtain proof of the source and it’s copyright free status for each item. Zazzle is strict about ensuring that no copyright laws are infringed and will swiftly remove any products in violation.


Tip #1: Know the Criteria for Use of Public Domain Images on Zazzle Products

In order to resell images and graphics (that are not your own) on Zazzle products, they need to be:

1. copyright free

(in the public domain, CC0 = Creative Commons Zero or Creative Commons Public Domain Mark)

2. allowed to be modified or changed

3. allowed to be used for commercial use

Determining whether something is in the public domain can be quite complex, especially since Zazzle is an international site and copyright laws vary depending on country. You will want to make sure that you are using items which are considered in the “public domain” based on the date published and/or the time after the creator’s death.

You will have to do your homework. Make sure you have proof (legal or written) that you are using copyright free images and graphics.

Also, in the United States, pre-1923 works are in the public domain, but this only holds true for published works. Unpublished works are under federal copyright for the life of the author plus 70 years, at a minimum.

If the image or graphic is more recent, make sure it has been designated to be in the “public domain” or has a “Creative Commons Zero license” or “Creative Commons Public Domain Mark”. If a creator has published an image or graphic for use in the public domain and has attached one of these designations, you can be assured that you can use the image.


Tip #2: Be Aware of Exceptions 

1. Trademarked public landmarks.

If you try to sell, or use in a promotional way, a photo, painting or drawing of the “Lone Cypress Tree” in Monterey, California, you will be in trademark violation and could face a lawsuit. In an article in montereycountyweekly.com, they note “A sign at the top of the stairs leading down to the tree reads, “Photographs or art renderings of the Lone Cypress for commercial or promotional purposes cannot be taken or created without written permission from Pebble Beach Company.”

2. Celebrity images, movie/TV titles:

It’s illegal for anyone to sell products with celebrity images, movie or TV titles, even if you find a photo / artwork or drawing and it is listed as “public domain”.

I want to point out an example of a photo from a public domain repository website. Here is a link to a photo of E.T. from the Steven Spielberg movie.

The image is listed as “CC0 Public Domain”. Even though it indicates it is for “editorial use only”, it would be easy to think that it since it says “public domain” it would be OK to use. This photo is definitely NOT allowed for use on Zazzle products.

3. Images of trademarked text:

The “I love (heart) NY” is a great example of text and graphics that are trademarked. If you find an image classified as “public domain” with the “I heart NY” iconic text, you can not use it on Zazzle products.


Tip #3: Use Reputable Sources and Then Still Check Each Photo

There are many sites offering copyright free images for commercial use. Perform due diligence on each image you use on Zazzle.

Even sites which are considered reputable have images, which are definitely not copyright free images usable on Zazzle. The reason is because many sites work on the honor system, just like Zazzle. It is only once images are reported to the site owners that they will be taken down.

I am providing  you with some common sites for copyright free images listed below, however, I am not endorsing or recommending them. Please use only after you check for yourself, whether an image is truly available for use on Zazzle.

Some sites with copyright free images available for commercial use:


Check the terms of agreement on each website to ensure the images are copyright free and available for commercial use.


What did you learn in this article?

  1. You can use images and graphics on Zazzle, if you hold the copyright, paid for a commercial use license, if the images are in the public domain or if they have a Creative Commons Zero license (copyright free)
  2. There are exceptions. Even if the image is in the public domain, it may however still be trademarked and not usable on Zazzle
  3. Check and double check your source, to ensure the images and graphics are truly copyright free and available for use on Zazzle.


  • Timothy Dungan

    February 16, 2017

    And I stupidly thought that all PixaBay images were safe.

  • admin


    February 17, 2017

    There are copyright-free images on Pixabay that you can use on Zazzle but you have to read the text on each image and make sure they don’t violate any trademarks and are in the public domain.

  • abundancelovetrip

    April 29, 2017

    Thanks this such a good article. I wish more new designers would read it too.
    I only use my own art on my Zazzle site.
    It took more time for me to resize and recolor the public domain images, than to make my own.
    To those artists thinking about using public doman images be careful.
    A lot of sites and photos people think are public domain aren’t.
    I even found a site giving some of my art as public domain. It was art they stole off of Pinterest or a blog. They were giving it away for free use.

  • admin


    May 1, 2017

    Yes, “abundancelovetrip” it is important to check your sources for public domain material. Thanks for your comment. Elke

  • Barb

    June 19, 2017

    Hi Elke

    When you say above “you have to read the text on each image” are you referring to only the license or is there another area that we should be watching for in the text of an image on Pixabay?

    Thanks for the help.

  • admin


    June 19, 2017

    Hi Barb. Each image has a license type that it falls under based on what the owner indicates on the page where the image is (usually near the top right under the icon of the photographer). Also, down below near the download button, there is additional text, including model release information, which may further qualify what you can do with the image or if you need to give credit etc. I have had the same photographer have different licensing terms for different photos. So you can’t assume one photographer’s terms on one photo apply to all. That is why you should check each image and make sure it is clear to use and what you need to do to comply with their wishes, like attribution etc.Hope that helps. Elke

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