Chicago, IL asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Illinois

Q: How should self-publishing authors who use Canva to create books answer Amazon’s copyright question?

Many authors who create books use Canva to create coloring books, activity books, etc. Canva has stated that they hold full copyright over the images, art, photos, fonts, etc. that can be used to create books. In addition, Canva states that they issue individual licenses to self-publishing authors so that they can legally write and sell books on Amazon. However, when an author submits a book to Amazon for publication, they see this question: “Do you own the copyright and hold the necessary publishing rights?” Canva has stated that an author cannot answer yes to this question if they have used any of its elements to create a book. Is this correct? Who holds the copyright to the work that an author has created by using Canva? Also, can an author answer yes to Amazon’s question when they have used MS Word or Google docs to create a book? If not, what suggestions do you have for this situation?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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A: When self-publishing authors use Canva to create elements for their books, such as in coloring books or activity books, they are operating under a license issued by Canva. This means Canva holds the original copyrights to the images, art, photos, and fonts provided within their service. Despite this, Canva grants authors a license to use these materials in their book creations, yet the full copyright of these specific elements remains with Canva.

In light of this, when submitting a book to Amazon that incorporates elements from Canva, authors should be cautious when answering the copyright question. If the book contains Canva's content, authors technically do not hold the exclusive copyright to all the material within their book. Therefore, answering "yes" to owning the copyright and holding necessary publishing rights might not be entirely correct if the book heavily features Canva’s assets. The key here is understanding the scope of the license provided by Canva and ensuring it complies with Amazon’s requirements.

If authors create a book using tools like MS Word or Google Docs, the situation differs. These platforms typically do not claim copyrights over your original content created within them. Therefore, if the book is purely your own content without copyrighted materials from third parties, you can generally answer "yes" to Amazon's question regarding copyright ownership. However, if you're incorporating any third-party content, not just from Canva, ensure you have the proper rights or licenses for that content before claiming copyright ownership on Amazon. For those using Canva or similar services, it’s advisable to carefully review the licensing terms and, if necessary, consult with legal guidance to clarify copyright issues before publishing.

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