Why was my content rejected for Similar Content?

Image by YuriyZhuravov

If your content was rejected with “Similar Content - This content is too similar to another image or clip that has already been submitted or published”, it is because the content you submitted closely resembles another image or clip that has already been accepted to our site. 

We avoid accepting Similar Content because it creates a poor user experience for customers and contributors by having large volumes of nearly identical images or clips. Browsing through large volumes of repetitive search results is time-consuming, and prevents customers from purchasing relevant content that fits their needs.

To avoid rejections for Similar Content, please adhere to the guidelines below. These guidelines reference the most frequently submitted types of similar content. Other types of Similar Content are identified on a case-by-case basis by our global team of content reviewers. 


Similar Content Guidelines

Please note, the unacceptable examples provided below were produced by us using images licensed from Shutterstock. These are not works submitted by contributors in their original form.


Images/clips that all have similar visual characteristics, but individually show different subject matter:


Images by Look Studio


Images by Valenty


Not Acceptable:

  • Swapped/flipped backgrounds

  • Different photo element, graphic overlays or icons over the exact same background image

  • Same exact photo element/graphic overlay in the foreground even if the background is different.

  • Same exact visual element multiple times, even if foreground and background images are different



Images/clips that all show similar subject matter, but individually have different visual characteristics

Images by ff-photo


Images by Rustic


Not Acceptable:

  • Simple vertical/horizontal orientation changes

  • Minor adjustments to composition, cropping, speed (footage only), or aspect ratio

  • Minor changes to tone, saturation, or color



  • Sets of visually similar icons can be accepted if the icons and surrounding design are all different


  • Different icons with the exact same background image


Images by snja


Not Acceptable:

  • Exact same icon with different surrounding designs or background


  • Virtually identical variations of common designs (such as flags or other standardized symbols)

  • Large sets of visually similar abstract backgrounds and textures

  • Same icons or designs with only different stroke widths and/or treatments

  • Icon sets that contain repeated icons



Content containing text, where both the text and background image or surrounding design are different.

Images by Artur Szczybylo


Not Acceptable:

  • Different text over the same background image or clip or surrounding design

  • Same text multiple times, even if is on a different background or with different surrounding designs

  • Minor changes to text, labels, symbols, or other secondary elements



Wordclouds where both the wordcloud concept and shape are different. A wordcloud that takes up the entire frame and is not formed into a distinct shape is acceptable as long as the concepts are different.

Images by sharafmaksumov


Not Acceptable:

  • Wordclouds with the exact same shape, even if the concepts are different

  • Same concept for words, but in different shapes


We Recommend

  • Choose quality over quantity when deciding what images or clips to submit.

  • Limit yourself to submitting only the strongest, most unique variations of your content.

  • Refrain from submitting multiple versions of the same image or clip, where the only differences are quick edits a customer can make on their own.

  • If you wish to submit icons with subtle variations, such as different colors, submit them in a single set instead of submitting them individually. Avoid submitting multiple sets of the same icons in different configurations.

  • Before uploading, check your portfolio to ensure you are not submitting anything too similar to content you have already had approved.


You may encounter instances in which your work was rejected even though there is similar content already exists on the customer site. Our collection is frequently evaluated and content that does not comply with our guidelines is removed. Intentional disregard of any of Shutterstock’s policies can result in account suspension or termination. Review our Terms of Service for more information on our account regulation procedures.


Here are some additional resources you may find helpful:

Shutterstock Contributor Terms of Service

Submission and Account Guidelines

How is Title Spamming Defined?

How is Keyword Spamming Defined?

How is content reviewed?

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