Note: While the information contained in this post is not intended to be legal advice, we hope it helps empower you to make informed decisions regarding your content.
If an image depicts an identifiable person, you must submit a valid model release for the image to be licensed for commercial use. Read below as we answer common questions about model releases and offer some important tips for contributors.
Why do model releases matter?
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 image featuring the model. The more restrictive a model release is in relation to the photographer’s rights to use the image, the less commercially viable that image will be, as the image will be limited to certain uses.
If you intend to submit an image featuring a recognizable model for licensing by a stock agency, it is 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 kind of releases will Shutterstock accept?
We have recently expanded the types of releases we will accept, including foreign language releases (see the full list here).
We prefer Shutterstock releases, which are available at the Shutterstock Legal Center, in the below languages:
When do I need a model release?
You need a model release for a commercial image where the image features a recognizable individual. Even though parts of a person may not be visible, if the person might be recognizable (due to accessories, clothing, etc.), then a release should be obtained.
Does not require a release:
Requires a release:
If you do not have a model release for recognizable person or persons in content you wish to submit for commercial use, then you may only submit such content for editorial use. The content then needs to meet our editorial standards.