How to Submit Vectors Created Using Other Images

One of our most important goals at Shutterstock is to foster a safe environment for both contributors and customers to license images and videos.  To better protect both parties, we occasionally ask for supporting material, such as reference images, with image submissions.

Our guidelines for submitting vectors, as with all work you submit to Shutterstock, is simple:  you may only submit content to which you own or control the copyright. This includes any content that you use to create your image.  Therefore, you may use an image to create a vector (“reference image”), but only if you own or control the copyright to the reference image.

For example, you may not submit a vector that you created from an image you found online and which does not belong to you. This includes reference images found through online searches and on “free” image websites. Unless you own or control the copyright to the reference image, you may not submit a vector created using the reference image.

We request that you submit the reference image for vectors that have been created using a reference image. You can do this by uploading a copy of the reference image to the “property releases” section along with your vector submission.

Please note that you do not have to submit reference images for vectors that were directly created on a program or tablet. However, please know that our reviewers examine every image submission very thoroughly, and may request more information about a vector if it appears that the vector may have been created using a reference image.

By providing us with a copy of a reference image, you are helping to ensure that you are the rightful owner to the image, and that you are providing content with integrity to our customers. Additionally, providing us with a copy of a reference image can help protect you if there is ever any dispute related to the ownership of your image.

Below are some examples of vectors created using reference images where we would require you to upload a copy of the reference image.

 

Auto-traced or live-traced vectors

 

Auto-traced (also known as live-traced) vectors are vectors that have been created using a tracing tool on a program that automatically traces the reference image.  You may only submit vectors containing auto-traced elements if you own or control the copyright to the reference image that has been auto-traced. You must submit a copy of the reference image with the vector during the review process.

 Example:

Autotrace

This auto-traced vector was created by uploading a reference image to a program, and then traced using the auto-trace (or similar) feature. To submit this vector to Shutterstock, the submitter must own or control the copyright to the reference image used to create this vector.

shutterstock_105474548-lo rez

This is the reference image for the auto-traced vector shown above. This image would be submitted under “property releases” with the above vector submission. The submitter must own or control the copyright to this reference image in order to submit a vector based on this reference image to Shutterstock.

 

Vectors created from reference images without using auto-trace

 

Even if you only use a pen tool or other manual tool to create an image using a reference image (i.e., you do not have a program trace the reference image automatically for you), you must own or control the copyright to the reference image.

It is important to remember that creating a vector using someone else’s reference image does not mean that you own the copyright to the vector, since the underlying reference image belongs to the creator of the reference image.

If you are submitting a vector that you have created using your own reference image without an auto-trace tool on a program, please submit a copy of the reference image with your vector submission.

 Example:

Pen tool

This vector was created by looking at a reference image, and then using a pen or similar tool to draw the vector on a program. To submit this vector to Shutterstock, the submitter must own or control the copyright to the reference image used to create this vector. Just because the submitter has done the “work” to create this vector does not mean they own the image; the submitter must own the underlying reference image to own this vector.

shutterstock_105474548-lo rez

This is the reference image used to create the vector shown above. This image would be submitted under “property releases” with the above vector submission.  The submitter must own this reference image in order to submit a vector based on this reference image to Shutterstock.  If the submitter does not own the reference image, then the submitter cannot submit the vector to Shutterstock.

 

Identifiable people in vectors

 

If a vector contains an identifiable person, then you must submit a model release for the image. If a vector created using a reference image contains an identifiable person, then you must submit both a copy of the reference image (which you must own), as well as a model release with the vector.

Example:

 dancers-auto-trace-33

This vector depicts an identifiable individual, and so would require a model release. This vector was also created using a reference image, and so both a model release and the reference image would need to be submitted with this vector.

 

Example:

Non-Identifable-Person-Vector

This vector depicts an individual who is not identifiable; therefore, this vector would not need a model release. Additionally, this vector was not created using a reference image, and so no reference image would need to be submitted with this vector.

 

Silhouette vectors

 

If you create a silhouette using a reference image, you must own or control  the copyright to the reference image. Please submit a copy of the reference image for each silhouette you create, even if your image contains multiple silhouettes.

Example:

 

Non-Identifable-Silhouette-Vector

This is an example of a reference image (hand sketch on left), and a silhouette vector that has been created using the reference image (right).  If the silhouette is created using a reference image, the submitter must own or control the copyright to the reference image. Additionally, the submitter must submit the reference image with the silhouette vector submission. Please note that we will not accept silhouette vectors created using reference images from the internet, including from “free” websites.

We take the protection of intellectual property rights very seriously here at Shutterstock, and request that you follow these guidelines in order to help prevent the abuse of others’ rights.  Please note that if you submit a vector that was created using a reference image belonging to someone else, your account may be disabled per our Terms of Service.

We thank you for submitting quality work and we look forward to reviewing your vectors. If you have questions, please contact us at submit@shutterstock.com

 

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34 Responses

  • anna /
  • April 10, 2013 at 2:09 am

I dont see the difference between last two illustrations. How do you know the skier was not created using a reference image (a sketch)? It most probably was. The author probably even looked at some photo on web, to get the proportions of the skier right. The photo he doesnt own copyright to. Its not certain but probable. Because thats what illustrators do – they look at reference photos or they look around themselves. Very few illustrations come to life just out of our imagination. Only 80-year old master who already “remember” how everyhting looks can do that. So why does the skier not need the reference image and the silly woman image does? Seriously….? With this logic, EVERY SINGLE SUBMITTED ILLUSTRATION would need a reference image attached because how can anyone prove that he didnt use a sketch for it and how can you know? absurd…

  • anthony /
  • April 10, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Hi Anna,

The images in this post are intended for example purposes only. In case you are curious, the image of the skier was created freehand on a program, while the image of the recognizable woman was created on a program using a reference image.

We recognize and understand that illustrators may gain their inspiration from the world around them, including from other images. To be clear, we do not need reference images that are merely sources
of inspiration for ideas, proportions or poses in vectors submitted to
us.

However, we do need reference images for vector submissions where elements or figures from the reference image are visibly similar, traced, copied or recreated in vectors submitted to us. We request reference images in these situations to make sure that the vector submission is not
infringing a third party’s intellectual property rights. By submitting the reference image for vectors which are visibly similar, trace, copy, or recreate the reference image, you are helping to ensure us that you own the copyright to such vector submissions. You are also allowing us to provide content with integrity to our customers.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us at submit@shutterstock.com.

  • anna /
  • April 10, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Hi Anthony and thank you for your reaction, I didnt expect that. I still think that the examples were chosen a bit unfortunately – the thing is the reviewer does not know how exactly the image was created. If I was a reviewer and would have to decide which of these two was drawn using a sketch or reference, it would be the skier because it is a great detailed and well-thought illustration while the woman is very simple, with a general pose, anatomically vague, even without a face, so my guess would be someone drew that in one or two minutes without any sketch or preparations and I would not ask the contributor to provide any reference. So to illustrate the difference I would actually switch these two images :) but ok, nevermind, Thanks for explanation.

  • Heather Wimberly /
  • April 11, 2013 at 12:53 am

I have a specific question regarding reference images that are very old and therefore should be in the public domain.

I have collected old ephemera for years and I would like to use these for reference images. An example is a postcard from 1905. Someone else may own the same postcard, but, in fact, neither of us holds any rights to the image under copyright. If I send you a scan of the card, and a statement to the effect that I do own a copy of the card, is it then okay to use the card as a reference image?

Work published in the United States before 1923, or outside the US before 1909, is in the public domain. But if it appears in a book published by someone else, is it still considered public domain if you use the image in the book as a reference image? Could you please clarify how we should address this if we are sending in an image for review?

Thanks! :-)

  • Eric B /
  • April 11, 2013 at 10:46 am

I’m glad to finally see something in writing from SS. However, I’m a vector artist. I don’t use Auto-trace from photographs. I trace india ink drawings and color them in Illustrator. Lately, I’ve been doing more illustrations 100% on computer with Manga Studio and Illustrator. With my cross hatching, I’ve gotten a bunch of rejections for not having the original scan. This is VERY, VERY FRUSTRATING.

  • Eric B /
  • April 11, 2013 at 10:59 am

So I decided that I’ll upload my computer drawn outline for illustrations created 100% on computer. SS, that’s the best I can do for computer-based illustrations!

  • Tania T /
  • April 11, 2013 at 4:19 pm

I do sometimes illustrations on the go, with no photographic image as a source/reference. Sometimes I do not sketch before to make it an illustrator. How about that?

    • Eric B /
    • April 15, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    Tania, I think our only hope is to submit a JPG of the beginning outline or shapes on computer. There is no way—without us resubmitting for an appeal to accept our innocence—to prove it either way. For now on, that’s what I’m going to to do. I’ve got 10+ sitting queue for weeks now. I just attached JPG “originals” to all of them.

  • zee bee junior /
  • April 16, 2013 at 5:51 pm

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  • Andrea /
  • April 18, 2013 at 5:19 am

Anna …

I think the important thing here is that, as a contributor, you know you need to supply reference images if you have used them. This is a way to cover SS – in the event there is a comeback and someone says you used their photo as a reference image, Shutterstock can then come back to you. It is about being honest. If you didn’t use any, there would never be a comeback. Shutterstock are asking you to cover yourselves. They are laying down the rules and if you choose to break them, then you will be liable if there is a comeback. Here, they are merely pointing out examples of where you should cover yourself with a reference image. By uploading work without a reference image, you are ‘signing’ that you own copyright to all that was used and uploaded.

  • pojoslaw /
  • April 28, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Recently I´ve got rejections for traced and adjusted sketches.

So I have few question/notes relating this issue:

I understand, that you need property release for hand drawn images,
but is it really necessary to attach an original sketch to each of them?

This makes upload process so slow. I would like to submit hundreds of hand drawn vector images, but if I have to attach original sketch to every property release it is impossible for me :(

I think it is responsibility of every vector artist to own or control copyrights for sketches.
And even if someone upload original sketch with property release you can´t find out if artist really own it – you always have to trust to the artist. And it is responsibility of the artists to have every copyright issue allright.

That is why it doesn´t make sense to me, why I have to attach original sketch with every property release. It slow down uploading process so so much :(

Can you please reevaluate this requirement? Or write me down if there is any other possible way to do this faster? I control copyrights for every sketch I scan, trace, adjust and upload to you.

Thank you

  • Artur /
  • May 3, 2013 at 5:01 pm

How to add original sketch? what resolution?

  • Tania T /
  • May 13, 2013 at 10:40 am

Still not clear.
If I submit vector with reference sketch, do I still need to submit property release?
Also, can I submit my paintings (in jpg format) with reference sketch and no property release?
Thank you

  • Tatiana /
  • May 15, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Have the same questions. I want to submit my watercolor paintings (in jpg). So, the reference sketch must be photo of my original paintings? And how to make proprety release, give me link of example, please.
Thank you!

  • nihat güllü /
  • July 2, 2013 at 4:49 pm

This is my own work and there is no reference image used.You asked me to attach a reference image for this work but it is my own design.How can I attach a reference image or is it necessary when there is no reference image?
Thank you!

  • echo3005 /
  • July 7, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Have the same questions. I want to submit my watercolor paintings (in jpg). So, the reference sketch must be photo of my original paintings? And how to make proprety release, give me link of example, please.
Thank you!

    • Serdar Tibet /
    • April 7, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    I suppose attaching a property release would be enough

  • Hoang Cong Thanh /
  • July 24, 2013 at 9:46 am

Today, I have uploded both vector images (.eps) and the appropriate reference images (.jpg, max length 800px) and when checked the site, the letter “vector” appreared on each image but really surprised to get the notice from Shutterstock: ”

147078677
Morning on the fields
Not Approved
Please attach reference image in the property release field & resubmit: http://shutr.bz/16yIy6i
Pls clearify!
Thanks

  • Dennis Melling /
  • July 28, 2013 at 5:17 am

Does it make any difference to the reference copy issue when a public domain reference image is used to draw (not auto trace) detail in that image.

  • Car Respray West London /
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  • Elena /
  • August 21, 2013 at 1:40 am

What shall i do? I don’t use any sketches, and I draw by Wacom at once on the computer?
Such woman as in your example is very very simple. I can create it for 5 minutes without any reference image.

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  • roxolana /
  • January 31, 2014 at 7:33 pm

Hello
Prompt please. What if the initial sketch created Fantasy – for example, draws on impressions. or on the street, in the open air. I violate property rights. And will you have me with such vector sketches.
Thank you

  • gutsulyak /
  • February 28, 2014 at 2:59 pm

Few of my images were rejected because and I was asked to upload reference images. But I have no reference images ALL MY VECTORS WERE PAINTED BY ME without reference images… What to do?

  • gutsulyak /
  • February 28, 2014 at 3:14 pm

what if I created new vector image that is based on my old vector image? And old vector is approved and is in my gallery. But for new one I have to find not existing reference… Please explain it.

  • Tatiana /
  • March 24, 2014 at 5:08 pm

Hello, all images are made ​​by me personally, but they was not approved, because I need a property release. Unfortunately I can not download the property release. why this function does not work bei me?

  • Eugene /
  • March 26, 2014 at 6:05 am

idiotism!
in the digital age, I got into the habit immediately draw your computer without making any sketches … maybe I’m doomed to be denied their works

  • Serdar Tibet /
  • April 7, 2014 at 5:57 pm

When I trace a photo , I attach the original image white submiting my artwork. This is okay . No problem.

But what if my drawing is imaginary ?

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