How To License an Image on Shutterstock

If you're wondering how to copyright an image that you've drawn or a photograph that you've taken, you actually do not need to do anything special. As long as the work is original and fixed in tangible or digital media, you did not create the work for an employer as part of a regular job, and you have not signed an agreement transferring rights to the image to someone else, you own the copyright to it. There are some legal advantages to registering a copyright with the government, but it is not required.
If you'd like to contribute your work to Shutterstock but wonder if you'll retain the copyright, you can rest easy on that score. Not only will you retain the copyright but you'll receive fair compensation for your work.

If you'd like to use an image on Shutterstock that you did not create, you must first purchase a license. Licenses not only allow you access to the images but also legal protection in case of a copyright dispute.

There are several types of licenses available from Shutterstock:
  • Standard License: The default for most Shutterstock plans and subscriptions, offering limited privileges and protections
  • Enhanced License: Features fewer limitations and more protections, allowing you to use images for merchandising
  • Premier License: The strongest license available with the most benefits, including transferability of rights to a third party and unlimited indemnification
The type of license you choose depends on several different factors. One is the intended use of the image. If you intend to use the image for merchandising, as decoration in a commercial space, or in advertisements, an enhanced license is preferable to a standard license, which imposes limits on some of these uses and does not permit others at all. Another factor is the type of plan or subscription that you choose, as certain licenses are only available with certain plans. Talk to one of our customer service representatives to decide which license is best for you.

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