Angel Policies for Rubber Stampers

A butterfly rubber stamp

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An angel policy is a form of limited license that specifies how a rubber stamped image can be used and any specific requirements of the manufacturer or artist. Typically, this outlines under what circumstances, if any, a stamper can make and sell items created using a manufacturer's rubber stamps.

Some companies have a generous angel policy that allows stampers to work with the stamped images without restriction, including creating products for resale. Other companies offer more limited commercial use of their images, such as restricting the number of products that can be created with a single stamp.

Some companies do not have an angel policy, but this does not mean that there is a free-for-all when it comes to the use of their stamps. It means that the stamps are sold for personal use only and not for commercial gain.

Typical Angel Policy Terms

Many companies work on the basis that its rubber stamps are being sold for personal use only. The companies sometimes will grant a limited license, or an "angel policy," that will allow the creation of products for resale using their stamped images.

A common element of most angel policies is that any item created for resale must be hand-stamped and not reproduced mechanically or electronically. Most standard angel policies also prohibit the use of assembly or production line processes to create stamped products.

Other terms that may be specified within an angel policy include:

  • How many products can be made
  • Where the products can be sold
  • Whether a copyright statement needs to be made
  • Whether permission needs to be requested in writing
  • Stamped images cannot be used to create logos, clip art, or other commercial products

Note: Licensed images, such as Disney characters or other characters such as Thomas the Tank Engine are almost never permitted for use in the creation of items for resale.

What Does This Mean?

This might all sound pretty daunting to a stamper who is unfamiliar with angel policies; however, the terms of a policy are not meant to be restrictive or prohibitive. They are to protect the original artist, the stamp manufacturer, and the stamper from the misuse of stamped images.

Stamping for Personal Use

Stampers who enjoy making cards and other creations for their own use or to give to family and friends needn't worry. The terms of an angel policy generally for stampers who are looking to sell their work.

Stampers who are interested in altered arts, however, may want to check the angel policy of the companies that make the stamps they are using, as some do not allow the altering of their images. This includes masking and layering images.

Further Information

A list of the angel policies from more than 50 rubber stamping companies can be found here: Rubber Stamping Companies With an Angel Policy. However, as terms may be subject to change, check with the companies whose stamps you are considering using before making items for resale. If in doubt as to whether a specific point applies to you, contact the company directly and ask for clarification.

Tips for Working with Angel Policies

  • Angel policies can change, so print out the policy that you are using and date it. This will be a record of the terms under which you are operating.
  • Keep copies of any correspondence with the stamp company.
  • Many rubber stamping companies make their stamps available under generous angel policy terms. If you can't use the stamps you desire from one company, take a look at what others have to offer.