We field many questions from Shutterstock contributors about model releases and property releases required for content submissions. Here are the general guidelines:
Model Releases: A model release must be submitted for any commercial content that features a recognizable individual(s). Additionally, if the person might be recognizable (due to accessories, clothing, etc.), then a model release should be obtained.
Property Release: A property release must be submitted for any commercial content that is shot on private property, or is taken on public property but features distinctive private property.
We prefer that you submit Shutterstock releases, which are available at the Shutterstock Legal Center in several languages. For a full list of other releases we will accept, click here.
1. Model Releases
Why are model releases important?
Model releases help protect both the photographer and customer from any claims that may be brought by the model due to the use of the model’s likeness. By obtaining a model release, the photographer is given the right to use the model’s likeness under the conditions laid out in the release.
Does it matter what kind of model release I use?
The answer to this question depends on how you will be using or licensing the content featuring the model. The more restrictive a model release is in relation to the photographer’s rights to use the content, the less commercially viable that content will be, as the content will be limited to certain uses.
If you intend to submit any content featuring a recognizable model for licensing by a stock agency, it’s important to understand the requirements of each agency. It may be wise to choose a release that will be acceptable by most or all agencies, so that you do not need to obtain additional releases or permissions.
What information is required to be filled out in a model release?
- Model Information: The model’s name, contact information, and signature are required when submitting a model release. Models should fill out their information during (or directly before or after) the shoot.
- Witness Information: The witness to a model release must be present when the model signs the release. Therefore, it is crucial that witnesses includes their name, contact information, signature, and date of signature very close in time to when they witnessed the model sign the release (the same day). Witnesses help you counter any claims, as your witness can attest to the veracity of the shoot information and confirm that a model signed a release.
Please make sure that all information filled out is accurate and legible.
How do I attach a model release to a content submission?
A model release must be submitted as a JPG file.
Currently, as you upload content for submission you will see the option to attach releases in the bottom-right column (pictured, above). When you select “Releases + Add, ” this option will open a new window (pictured below) prompting you to upload your release.
As you upload a model release, that file is automatically saved into your account’s “archived” area. So if you upload 25 images and only need one model release for all 25 images, all you have to do is upload one release, and then associate that release to all of the images that you have uploaded. You will also be able to reuse the same release for future submissions.
Please note that model releases for minors (individuals under 18 years of age) require the consent of a parent or guardian of the minor. Please submit a Minor Model Release for content featuring minors, which you can find in the Shutterstock Legal Center.
Pictures of adult nude models must, of course, have a model release, but also a picture ID with proof that the model is at least 21.
Remember, a properly signed model release is essential when posting photos of individuals.
2. Property Releases
Why are property releases important?
Private property may be subject to certain protections. Legal considerations related to private property vary by jurisdiction, but some considerations include claims of trespass, orders of a congress or administrative agency, proprietary rights to designs on the property, or restrictions against shooting content upon admission.
A property release signifies that the owner or authorized representative of the property has given you permission to use images or footage taken on the property for commercial use.
When should I obtain a property release?
If you are shooting on private property, or shooting private property which is distinctive from a public place, be sure to obtain a property release from an authorized representative of the owner of the property, in order to avoid issues with licensing your content.
What types of properties may require a property release?
As a content creator, it is your responsibility to research any properties you shoot to determine whether a release is necessary. The below property types may be subject to restrictions that require a property release:
- Modern architecture
- Building interiors
- Unique and/or custom designed luxury boats, vehicles, airplanes, etc.
- Unique animals: race horses, unique pets, certain zoo animals, etc.
- Content featuring unique building exteriors, even if taken from public property
- Properties with photography policies, which may include stadiums, museums, concert venues, amusement parks, etc.
- Famous landmarks and historic locations
What information is required to be filled out in a property release?
- Information about the owner or an authorized representative of the property: A property release must have the name, contact information and signature of either the owner or an authorized representative of the property.
Please note that the person signing the property release must have authorization to do so. As a result, a person who merely works at a property or venue may not be the proper person to sign the release. For example, a security guard at a stadium is unlikely to have the authorization to sign a property release on behalf of the property owner.
- Witness Information: The witness to a property release must be present when the owner/authorized representative signs the release. Therefore, it is crucial that the witness includes their name, contact information, signature, and date of signature very close in time to when they witnessed the owner/authorized representative sign the release (the same day). Witnesses help you counter any claims, as your witness can attest to the veracity of the shoot information and confirm that the owner/authorized representative signed a release.
3. General Information about Model and Property Releases
What types of releases will Shutterstock accept?