Sometimes we will need to see a signed and witnessed property release indicating you have obtained permission to photograph a particular location, building, or object.
The requirements for a property release isn’t as clear-cut as for a model release, because there is no specific right of privacy that attaches to property, as it does to people. Having said that, there are at least two reasons for obtaining property releases: a) on the theory that a person’s identity might be connected to the property in question (such as where a person’s property is used in a manner that might defame the person as owner); and b) on the basis that to use someone’s property for commercial gain without their consent may amount to an offence called ‘conversion’. Also, if you go on someone’s property to take a picture of them or their property, it could amount to trespass.
iStock recommends that a Property Release be obtained when the image contains identifiable property wherever possible (this isn’t just for houses, it could apply to pets, cars and other personal property. The more recognizable and unique the property (and the more the owner’s identity might be connected to or determined from the property) the greater the need for a property release.
The Property Release needs to signed by the legal and beneficial owner(s) of the property or their authorized agent. Many of the same formalities apply as for Model Releases.
Source: iStockphotos, Legal Requirements.
Shutterstock Property Release Policy
As many of you know, Shutterstock has been accepting, though not requiring, property releases for the past few years. Rather than continue our policy of rejecting images when we feel that a property release is required, we are making our form of property release available for download, first in this forum and then generally on the site. There is no need to provide property releases with your editorial image and footage submissions. For more information on our editorial policy, please see the forum post regarding editorial submissions.
The laws regarding the necessity of property releases are in flux and do vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. If the subject of your image contains any of the following, please provide a properly completed and signed property release when your content is submitted.
- Scans or photographs of artwork
- Modern Architecture
- Building interiors
- Unique and/or custom designed luxury boats, vehicles, airplanes, etc.
- Recognizable animals: race horses, unique pets, certain zoo animals, etc.
- Photos/video of building exteriors taken from private property.
- Public places with photography policies: most stadiums, museums, amusement parks, etc.
- Famous landmarks and historic locations: Will vary from site to site – please familiarize yourself with location’s photography policy (See our posting of current image restrictions for more information.)
The foregoing list is not all inclusive and should be used for general guidance only. As a photographer, it is your responsibility to do the research and determine if a release is necessary. Each specific instance must be considered individually. As a reminder, you are bound by the Terms of Service when you signed up as a contributor for Shutterstock. Please refer to the TOS for additional information.
Download a property release form here.