A property release (PR) is a legal agreement permitting you to use a piece of property in a photo or video. “Property” can include a location, artwork, or other copyright- or trademark-protected item or place.
As part of our agreement with our clients, Stocksy promises that all content is ready for commercial use and that it will not infringe on anyone’s intellectual property (IP) rights. While our Editor team checks all content, the legal obligation is on you to ensure your work is free of IP issues. We ask that you check your content before uploading, acquire Property Releases if required, and provide the Editor team with as much information as is necessary to allow them and our Legal team to make an informed decision.
Unfortunately, the answer to the question of when you need to add a PR is “it depends.” We review on a case-by-case basis, and there isn’t always a black and white answer, but these are some basic guidelines you can follow:
Private home interiors
A release may not be required but is always desirable. The more unique an environment is, and the more it is the focus of an asset, the more likely it will require a release.
Private home exteriors
In most countries, taking an exterior shot of someone’s house from the street or the air by drone is fine. We will always ask, however, that you remove identifying features such as house names and numbers.
Exception: France has stricter privacy laws, so we may not be able to accept photos and videos of private homes in France without a release.
In most cases, we will require a release. If you set up a series inside office premises, a retail store, hairdressers, hospital, restaurant, etc., ask for a release upfront. This will help give buyers the confidence they need to purchase your work. Tighter compositions where the location is difficult to recognize may be ok legally without a release.
A row of shops or businesses on the street will, in most cases, be fine without a release, but we will ask you to remove business names, logos, trademarked products, window advertisements, etc. Assets focused on a particular business exterior are more likely to require a release.
Visitor or public spaces/tourist attractions
It is a common misconception that any location open and available to the public is acceptable for commercial photos and videos. Private companies sometimes manage spaces to which the public has access, and they may prohibit commercial photography. Locations requiring a ticket to enter often have commercial photo/video restrictions built into the ticket terms. For that reason, content that includes interior shots of museums, aquariums, galleries, etc., will often be unacceptable without a release. If you are planning a series in a public space and you know that you will not be able to get a release, consider contacting Support to ask for advice in advance.
Exception: No need to ask about museums and art galleries; these will always be a no without a release.
A cornerstone of Stocksy’s mission statement is respecting artists. Art is protected by copyright, so if any artwork is visible (whether it’s a professional piece, street mural, or kid’s doodle), we will likely ask for a property release or more information to determine the level of risk. There will be instances where we are prepared to accept content containing unreleased art, but arriving at that decision involves complex risk analysis: the more information you can provide, the better.
Props and product shots
If your image or video is about a specific prop or object, rather than showing it as part of a larger scene, we may consider this a product shot. We will need to know more about the product and where it came from, and we may require a release. If you have had props specifically created for a series, we ask that you provide a release signed by whoever designed the items.
We don’t currently require a property release for tattoos, but this could change, so we strongly recommend getting a PR from the tattoo artist of each visible tattoo. If we are uncertain about the risk posed by a particular tattoo, then unless you can provide the necessary information, we will ask that you remove the tattoo.
Tattoos of protected material (i.e. art reproductions, copyrighted or trademarked pop culture references, licensed characters) should be removed or made unrecognizable.
Tattoos of realistic portraits of living or deceased people will require a model release.
We will not accept content containing tattoos linked to extremist political views.
All logos and design elements that are subject to a registered trademark must always be removed from clothing. Once that is done, by and large, most clothing that is mass-produced (i.e. available for purchase in large, well-known stores) will be fine for commercial use. We will ask for a PR for clothing if it is a custom design or if it is from a tiny and unique designer, or similar.