If you sell digital files on Etsy, you might have been confused by the listing process for SVG and other digital craft files because they could be considered handmade AND craft supplies.
Which one is correct, and does it matter? It’s a little tricky, but there are a few things to consider.
Let’s go through this step by step…
Table of Contents
- What is a supply on Etsy?
- Did you design the digital file yourself?
- What if you didn’t design the digital file yourself?
- What does the commercial license say?
- Whose rules win, Etsy’s or the product’s?
Some of the links in this article are affiliate links that will pay me a small commission if they’re used to purchase something. To see the entire affiliate policy click here.
What is a supply on Etsy?
Craft Supplies on Etsy are defined as “tools, ingredients, or materials whose primary purpose is for the creation of an item or special occasion.” (Source: Etsy’s TOU)
It goes on to say that supplies can be vintage, handmade, or commercial, so you can buy supplies from a manufacturer and resell them on Etsy…IF they’re actually a supply.
Things that can be used as-is aren’t supplies. So you can sell craft blanks like canvases or metal blanks that can be stamped, but you can’t sell t-shirts and call them supplies, even though you can print on them.
If the thing can be used as a finished product as it is, you can’t call it a supply.
So logically, digital craft files for cutting machines can’t be used by themselves as a finished product, and they should be called supplies.
That makes total sense, but I think what happens then is that people say “okay, it’s a supply, so that means I can buy them from someone else, then sell them on Etsy.”
That’s where it gets tricky, so read on to see why you probably can’t do that.
Did you design the digital file yourself?
Remember that Craft Supplies on Etsy can be handmade, vintage, or commercial.
If you designed the digital file yourself, or a member of your shop did, whether it’s an SVG, a DXF, a JPG, or any other format, you would put that as the answer in the first part of the listing process.
When you do that, it makes it part of the handmade category no matter what you do after that. So that part of it is easy, but it’s the next part that gets confusing.
The next box is the “what is it” box that could go either way. Personally, I would say that a digital file that’s a craft file format is a supply or tool to make something since it’s used for making things.
Other people might say that it’s a finished product, but the point here is that if you designed it yourself, it doesn’t matter.
No matter what you put in the “when was it made” box, if you choose “a finished product” it will say that the item is handmade.
If you choose “a supply or tool to make things,” it will say that it’s a handmade supply.
So either way, saying that you designed the digital file will put the listing in a handmade category because you’re the person who created it.
In this case it’s less important that it’s a supply or not, because the “handmade” part of it is the most important.
You’re allowed to sell things that you made on Etsy, there’s no question about that. But what if you didn’t design the file yourself?
What if you didn’t design the digital file yourself?
Let’s say that you got a bunch of digital files from a file-sharing site or a digital assets site. Since Etsy says that Craft Supplies can be handmade, vintage, or commercial, things that you buy with a commercial license would fall under the commercial part.
However, it’s not as simple as that.
Even if Etsy says that you can resell supplies, it doesn’t mean that you can resell digital files that you bought without changing them.
The reason for that isn’t Etsy’s rules, it’s the commercial license that you bought when you bought the files. And if you downloaded the files, or took them from somewhere online, you DEFINITELY don’t have a license to sell them.
Whether you can sell a digital file or not isn’t based on what Etsy says, it’s based on what the license says.
What does the commercial license say?
Most digital files that come with a commercial license have limits on what you can do with the files after you buy them.
I use Creative Fabrica for some digital files, and a lot of the files there come with a commercial license, but those licenses are different.
Some of them give you permission to use the files on physical products but not on Print-On-Demand products.
Some commercial licenses don’t let you use the files on anything where the original file can be extracted individually, and I’ve NEVER seen a commercial license for digital files that lets you resell them.
There are also some licenses that don’t let you use the files for anything commercial at all, and the only thing you can do is use them for personal use.
This chart shows the Creative Fabrica subscription license agreement. It has restrictions on selling the files individually or converting them from one format to another and selling those.
So basically, you can use the files on commercial products when you’re paying for the subscription, but you can’t resell the files yourself.
This is pretty common for every digital product commercial license that I’ve ever seen. Even if you have a commercial license, it doesn’t mean that the files are yours to sell.
Whose rules win, Etsy’s or the product’s?
Just because Etsy says that you can resell commercial items as Craft Supplies, it doesn’t mean that it overrides the license that came with the product. That wins when you’re deciding whether you can sell things or not.
So even if Etsy says it’s okay to resell things as Craft Supplies, it doesn’t mean that it’s okay to resell everything.
The artist who created the file keeps the copyright even if they sell usage rights to people, so if you violate the terms of your license they can sue you for doing it!
If you can find someone who lets you resell digital files under the terms of their commercial license, you can do that on Etsy because craft supplies can be commercial.
BUT… if the commercial license says that you can’t sell the files, you can’t do it.
You need to check the terms of whatever license you bought and follow that, don’t do what Etsy says in this situation!
The basic conclusion is that if you designed the digital files yourself, you can sell them with no problems on Etsy.
BUT…If you got the files somewhere else and just list them on Etsy, you can’t do that unless your commercial license clearly says that you can, and that’s really unlikely.
It’s best to follow the guidelines of creating your own designs so that you won’t have to worry about it!
If you've ever shopped for anything online, you've probably seen messages that say "only one left". Does this mean that there really is only one of that thing left? Or is it just a trick to try to...
It doesn't happen very often, but every now and then, you'll buy something on Etsy and then realize that the shop is closed after you've purchased from them. How should you handle this situation?...