In response to increased demand for images from large customers and advertising agencies, Shutterstock will be updating our Contributor Terms of Service. This update will create new opportunities for contributors to earn up to $75 per image license.

Shutterstock has been one of the few major image agencies to prohibit the use of images for “sensitive uses.” As a result, three changes are being included in this update:

  • We are updating our Terms of Service to allow certain sensitive uses for select large volume customers (for example, large ad agencies), subject to specific and important limitations. This brings our policies in line with the common terms at other image agencies.
  • Sales for these licenses will follow our “percentage royalty” model of 20-30% at a higher price point.
  • Unlike many other agencies, Shutterstock is putting you in control and giving you the choice of opting 100% into sales to these clients or 100% out of sales to these clients.

It is important to note that “sensitive uses” are expected to be a small part of our overall sales to large buyers and advertising agencies, but by choosing to participate, you get access to all sales made to these buyers.

Videos will not be affected by this update at this time.

What is a sensitive use?

A sensitive use might cause a reasonable person to believe that the subject of the image suffers from a physical or mental health condition; endorses, advocates, or believes in a particular product, service, cause or opinion; or is otherwise associated with an issue that some might consider controversial or unflattering.

Sensitive uses are subject to specific and important restrictions:

  • Customers must indicate that the image is of a model and used for illustrative purposes only.
  • Images may not be used in tobacco ads; in materials that are pornographic; or are used to market and/or promote adult entertainment clubs or similar venues, or escort, dating or similar services.

There will be no change in our policy regarding the use of editorial images.

Why are you making this change?

Our model releases have always allowed for flexible uses and allowing sensitive uses is already common among leading image agencies. This change will allow us to generate sales for you that otherwise would not be possible with the restriction in place. This is also the reason that other agencies already allow “sensitive uses” in their licenses.

Is participation optional?

Yes, participation is optional. You control what sales opportunities you want to take advantage of. You will be making this choice for your entire portfolio at Shutterstock. By default, your images will be included, unless you choose to opt-out.

What are the benefits?

You will earn higher royalties for “sensitive use” licenses. You will be paid up to $75 per royalty for content that is downloaded under licenses that allow a sensitive use, regardless of whether or not a sensitive use is made of your content. You will also be making your content available to a larger number of buyers, many of whom license images in high volume.

When will this change go into effect?

The updated Contributor Terms of Service will become effective March 1. If you do not want to participate in these sales opportunities, please visit your account page to change your preferences by March 1, 2012.

You may opt-in or opt-out at any time.