If you contribute stock photos, stock videos, or vectors to Vecteezy, you may have come across the requirement for a model release, minor release, or property release. These are important legal documents that must be submitted along with your content in certain situations.
While the laws can vary in each country, generally it’s legal to photograph or film people and places in public without restrictions. However, there are limitations to the way those photos and videos can be used by our customers, and that’s why these releases may be necessary.
The releases serve to protect the contributor or creator of the file, the subject of the photo/video/vector (or the owner of the property), and the end-user – Vecteezy customers.
Let’s take a look at each type of document.
A model release is an agreement that should be signed by both the model and the photographer (the copyright owner) granting the photographer the right to use the image or video. The release may state specifically when, where, and how the image or video may be used, or it could give blanket permission that covers any legal use. It should also be signed by a witness.
Model releases serve to prevent violations of privacy laws as well as to avoid disputes about payment or royalties owed to the person in the photograph or video for its use.
The model release is necessary when the subject of the photograph or video is recognizable. Of course, a clear shot of someone’s face would make them recognizable, but there are a number of other ways that the subject could be recognized by viewers. For example, a tattoo or other distinct features could allow someone to be recognizable even if his or her face is not visible. A person could also be recognized by a silhouette in some cases. If there’s any way that the subject could be recognized, the model release is needed.
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If there is more than one recognizable person in the photo, a separate release will be needed for each person.
Although model releases are more commonly needed for photos and videos, vectors may require a release in certain situations (for example, if the vector is based on a recognizable person).
The model release may not be necessary for editorial use of the photo (for education or documentary purposes). However, Vecteezy only accepts editorial images that fall into two categories:
- Documentary: Images that document an event or subject of human interest
- Illustrative: Staged images that portray an event or subject of human interest
While model releases are required by all reputable stock marketplaces, this isn’t exclusively a stock photo issue. Model releases are also needed for images and videos that are used commercially in other ways, and even to validate permission for using a photo or video within your portfolio.
Many free photo websites do not require model releases. In these cases, the photographer has given consent for the photo to be used, but the model may not have provided the same consent. End users could face legal disputes and potentially lawsuits by using these images for commercial purposes. Vecteezy stands out as one of the few websites that provides free photos and free videos with model releases on file.
Vecteezy provides a model release form that can be downloaded and used by contributors. We also accept model release forms from the following marketplaces: Shutterstock, iStock/Getty, AdobeStock, and Easy Release App.
When you’re completing the form, be sure that all the required information is provided. Partially completed forms are not acceptable. The model’s age and birthdate are often left out but these details are important to some clients who are promoting age-sensitive products like alcohol and dating sites/apps.
If you submit content to Vecteezy and you see a message that says “Content Rejected Due To Model and/or Property Release Issue”, this could mean any of the following:
- The attached release does not meet our requirements
- The release is illegible
- Additional releases are required.
You can upload a complete, legible release and re-submit the files to have them reviewed again.
What About Photographing Crowds?
There may be situations when your photos include crowds, such as people in the background of event photos. In these situations, it’s not possible or feasible to get signed releases from everyone who might appear in one of your photos. Another option is to post a crowd release notice at the event explaining that they may be photographed or recorded, the ways that the images or footage may be used, and a release of claims for compensation. However, you should still get a signed model release for anyone who is the primary subject of any photos or video.
A minor release or model release for minors serves the same purpose as the model release, but it’s only needed when the subject of the photo is under 18 years of age. In this case, a parent or legal guardian would need to sign the document.
Vecteezy provides a model release for minors form that can be downloaded and used by contributors. We also accept minor release forms from the following marketplaces: Shutterstock, iStock/Getty, AdobeStock, and Easy Release App.
A property release is very similar to a model release, except it involves property instead of a person. The property release is intended to protect the rights of the property owner.
As a Vecteezy contributor, you’ll need a signed property release when your photos or videos include recognizable private property. Examples of properties that require releases include, but are not limited to:
- Recognizable private property
- 3D interiors
- Custom-designed vehicles (including cars, boats, motorcycles, & airplanes)
- Furniture/household goods
- Technological devices
- Modern religious artwork & modern statues
- Artwork (such as paintings & drawings)
- Sheet music
- Exotic pets, unusual animals, racehorses, & certain zoo animals
- Modern buildings/architecture
In some cases, a property release may be needed for public buildings or historic sites. If there are multiple recognizable properties in the photo or video, you’ll need a signed release for each one.
Just like the model release, a property release is not needed for editorial use, but it will be needed for commercial use. Since most stock photos and videos are used commercially, you’ll need to get a signed property release when you’re uploading a resource that includes recognizable property.
Vecteezy provides a property release form that can be downloaded and used by contributors. We also accept property release forms from the following marketplaces: Shutterstock, iStock/Getty, AdobeStock, and Easy Release App.
Logos, Branding, and Copyright Issues
Before submitting content, you also need to verify that no copyright issues exist. Vectors, photos, and videos cannot include company logos or branding, characters, or fictional characters. They also cannot be complete or partial imitations of another author or artist’s work.
For example, if you’re taking a photo of someone holding a smartphone, be sure that no logos are visible on the phone. You can angle the shot in a way that avoids logos, place the model’s hands to cover the logo, or remove the logo in Photoshop before submitting.
By working to avoid copyright or intellectual property issues, you’ll prevent your content from being rejected and ensure that it’s appropriate for end-users, which leads to more downloads.
How It Can Help You
Getting signed releases will not only help to protect you and the other parties involved, but it can also lead to more downloads of your resources at Vecteezy. Photos and videos that have signed releases on file will be noted for visitors to see (as shown below). Many of our users will check to make sure that a photo or video has a signed release before downloading, so having the releases can lead to more downloads and more income for you.
We recommend getting in the habit of obtaining signed releases for each photoshoot or film project. That way you’ll be covered and you won’t have to go back and get a signature later.
If you have questions about the requirements, please reach out to our support team for assistance.
Lead image by julenocheck.