Submission and Account Guidelines

The following information supplements Shutterstock’s Submitter Terms of Service. As a Shutterstock contributor you are required to adhere to the policies outlined below.

Content Ownership and Intellectual Property

Copyright gives the author(s) of a creative work the exclusive right to display, reproduce, distribute, and financially benefit from the work they create. If you have questions about ownership of your content on Shutterstock, we recommend you familiarize yourself with our Submitter Terms of Service. The Shutterstock Submitter Terms of Service describes and controls your legal relationship with Shutterstock, the rights you are granting to Shutterstock in any content submitted by you to Shutterstock, and the uses Shutterstock may make of the content.

Although being inspired by an idea is acceptable, it is never acceptable to copy someone else’s expression of an idea. If you believe the copyright to an image on Shutterstock has been infringed upon, please collect all information pertaining to these images and contact us by email at

  • You must own or control the copyright to all content you submit to Shutterstock. This means that you cannot submit work obtained from other sources (e.g., online image search results or websites), or incorporate such work into your content submissions, unless you have permission to do so.

  • Public domain content cannot be submitted under any circumstances. If you do not have complete rights to the conent, you may not submit it.

  • Content submissions intended for commercial licensing must not contain any copyrighted material, including artwork, other photos, sculptures, architecture, exhibits or audio which are copyrighted. Additionally, content submissions may not contain trademarks, service marks or other indication of origin, including logos, owned by third parties.

  • If submitted content contains copyrighted material and/or trademarks, you must submit releases from the copyright and/or trademark owners. Alternatively, where such content meets our editorial standards, you may submit the content for Editorial Use Only.

  • Do not embed your own watermark, website name, or copyright notice in your content. We protect your content with our own watermark, which is applied when your content is accepted to our site.

  • We reserve the right to remove any previously accepted content submission from the Shutterstock library, and reserve the right to reinstate any previously accepted content submission which was later removed by a Shutterstock administrator, at any time for any reason.

Additional resources:

Shutterstock’s Protect Your Content Guide
Informed Images: What to Consider When Creating Photos or Video for Commercial Use
Understanding the Basics of Copyright

Account Registration

  • You must be 18 years of age to create a Shutterstock account.

  • You may not sign up for an account with identification documents belonging to another individual, share an account with another individual, and/or share content with another Shutterstock contributor without prior consent from Shutterstock.

  • The “Make Checks Payable To” name in your account must be your full legal name as it appears on your identification documents; this is the name to which royalty payments will be made. For business accounts this field will contain the business name.

  • In order to make your Shutterstock account a business account, you must provide us with documentation as required by your country or state that indicates you are a principal owner of the business.  

  • You may not open a second Shutterstock account without permission from Shutterstock.

  • You may not share the same online payment processing service account (like Paypal or Skrill) with another Shutterstock contributor.  

Account Regulation

If we see repeated issues related to content submissions or account activity, you may receive a warning. Multiple warnings may result in account suspension or termination. Some reasons for receiving warnings are:

  • Consistent repeated resubmissions without addressing the rejection reasons

  • Sharing a PayPal or Skrill email address with another Shutterstock contributor

  • Submitting content which may be excessively inspired by work to which you do not own the copyright

  • Frequent errors in categorizing content and applying metadata to submitted content. You can view our list of tags and categories here: Which tags and categories should I use for my content?

  • Copying the entire description and/or keywords of another item of content on Shutterstock

  • Title Spamming (repeating the same word within the title)

  • Keyword spamming (using irrelevant keywords)

  • Re-adding keywords that were previously removed by an administrator, adding restricted keywords after content approval, or modifying a caption that was previously edited by an administrator

  • Inappropriate keywords, such as those defined in the People Category (e.g., the use of "teen", "nude", "sexy", etc.)

  • Failure to follow the guidelines outlined in Account Registration, above


Images featuring an identifiable person that are submitted for commercial use must be accompanied by a valid Adult or Minor model release.  Similarly, photos taken on private property must be submitted with a property release signed by the owner if they are to be used commercially.

  • Model Releases -- Any content featuring an identifiable person must be accompanied by a model release. You can find out more about our Model Release requirements here: What does Shutterstock require for a model release? Submissions depicting a minor must be accompanied by a model release that was signed by that minor's parent or legal guardian. If there is no model release for the content, it may be submitted for Editorial Use Only, if the content meets our editorial standards.

  • Nudity -- For submissions containing nude content of artistic value, the model must look at least 25 years of age and the release must be accompanied by a photo ID of the model. The decision to accept or reject an image containing nudity will be made according to the sole discretion of Shutterstock. Never submit any explicit material. Submissions must not contain x-rated content or any illegal content according to US law.

  • Model and property release forms are available at our Legal Center. Check out our list of acceptable English and foreign language release forms from other sources. All releases must be submitted digitally; we do not accept faxed, mailed, or hard copy releases. Releases should not be uploaded as content, but uploaded in the content editor before submitting for review.

  • Releases for Artwork -- Shutterstock’s property release requirement for images that contain artwork ensures that you own the rights to both the submitted image and the artwork contained therein. Such representation protects both our contributors and our customers from a potential claim of copyright infringement. You can find out more about these types of releases here: Can I submit content with artwork which has not been created digitally?

  • Releases for Vintage Images -- Shutterstock may accept vintage content for commercial or editorial use if it is not in the public domain and accompanied by a property release and/or a model release. You can find out more about our vintage image policy here: Do you accept vintage photos and videos?

  • Releases for 3D Interiors -- A property release must be submitted with each 3D interior rendering indicating the name of the software program used to create your submission and that you have the right to license content you create with the 3D rendering software You can find out more about our 3D interiors policy here: Which 3D renderings of interiors are accepted?

  • Was this article helpful?