Hey everyone I am bit confused with emojis license. I have made a website that convert an emoji into PNG and SVG. Curious to know if they can be used as an clipart(commercial purpose) in videos,games,pictures or logos etc...

1 Answer 1


The shape of an emoji is an artistic creation and so is protected by copyright,unless it is judged to be too simple to have the required degree of originality for copyright protection (which may be the case for some emojis).

If an emoji's shape is protected, a translation or conversion to another format would be either a derivative work or a simple copy. In either case the permission of the copyright owner would be required, unless an exception to copyright such as fair use applied. It is hard to see hoe fair use in particular would apply in suvh a fact pattern. If it did not, permission would be required, and unless the owner had granted a license that covered the intended use, a new permission must be requested and obtained.

  • Now here's a question, one thing that courts must consider in the US is how it affects the market for the original work. Emojis aren't sold. Emojis aren't advertised as a feature of any smart phone or web browser, and it could be said that there is no market for emojis, no? Further, orthogonal markets such as games use Google's emojis as their main assets (teamwoodgames.com), a market which has no relation to the original intent of emojis. How is this typically handled in a court case?
    – tuskiomi
    Commented May 4, 2022 at 21:17
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    @tuskiomi The issue of market harm is one of the fair use factors in US law. But even if her is no market, the other actors might tilt against fair use. depending on the details. Also, not all copyright suits are about fair use. Some are about whether a design is original enough to be protected at all, which I mention in my answer. In that case markets may not matter at all. Of course if there is no market, perhaps no one will sue in any case. Commented May 4, 2022 at 22:01
  • Wouldn't many of the same principles apply here as for fonts? Unicode is the defining body for the abstract concept of an emoji and assigns each emoji a code point, e.g. 'face with raised eyebrow' is at code point U+1F928 and 'face vomiting' is at U+1F92E just as 'Latin small letter a' is at U+0061 and 'Latin small letter e' at U+0065. Even if the emoji itself (as an abstract concept) is not copyrighteable, wouldn't the concrete rendering of it be, just as the appearance of the letters a and e in a specific font can be (and regularly are) copyrighted, even if the letters itself are not?
    – jarnbjo
    Commented May 5, 2022 at 16:39

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