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 else’s intellectual property rights. While our Artist Relations team checks each asset for IP issues, the legal obligation is on you to ensure your work is free of IP issues. That is why we ask that you check your own content before uploading, acquire Property Releases if required, and provide the AR team with as much information as is required to allow them and our Legal team to make an informed decision on each asset.
Unfortunately, the answer to the question of when a property release needs to be added 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 identifying features such as house names and numbers are removed.
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 shoot inside office premises, a retail store, hairdressers, hospital, restaurant, etc., ask for a release upfront. This will help provide buyers with the confidence they need to purchase your work. Tighter shots 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. Spaces to which the public has access are sometimes managed by private companies that prohibit commercial photography, and locations that require a ticket to enter often have restrictions on commercial photo/video 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 shoot in a public space, and you know that you will not be able to get a release, consider contacting Support to ask for advice before you shoot.
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 of any kind is visible in your photo or video (whether it’s a professional piece, street mural, or kid’s doodle), we will likely ask for a property release or for 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 all 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 shoot, then 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 required, we will ask that the tattoo is removed.
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.