How you can become copyright free - learn the industries secrets

posted on 3rd of september, 2013

How many times did you get a rejection because you forgot to remove a license plate, an iPhone button or a tiny artwork on a wall behind you main subject?
When shooting people, the protocol is simple (have a model release printed, make sure it's a good general MR or a Dreamstime one, have it completed by the model and signed, have a witness, check it again for all details and click submit).

However, the ice becomes a lot thinner when it comes to objects, art and buildings. All photographers go through this issue at some point in their miscrostock career and they get lost in the sea of copyright more often than expected.

It is the photographer's responsibility to ensure there are no copyright issues with submissions and it is also in his/her best interest to avoid these due to potential liabilities. So for your safety and to help you get copyright free images online, here are some common copyright secrets:

Have you been shooting cars, motorcycles, trains, ships, planes? You should be aware of a few facts:
- license plates are copyright. If you choose to remove them altogether, kudos to you, but if you will just modify them you need to specify this in a comment for the admin
- train numbers, ship numbers/names are copyright and you should remove or alter them with the same specifications as above
- we still don't accept Porsches, Ferraris and Harley Davidsons, completely copyrighted and editorial only.

Did you go to Ikea, the mall, or any other store?
- make sure you removed every little tag that can give you away
- barcodes are copyrighted
- check that you can sell commercial images taken inside the stores as some stores may have an issue with this, in which case you can only submit as editorial.

Works of art, unique creations and other such objects:
- those are definitely copyright,
- altering or simply removing them from the picture can be a solution when they are just a small part of the image and out of focus but, if they are your main subject, it is better to get a property release. Altering won't work in this case because: a) the work itself will still be recognizable and b) you will lose the actual subject of your image, which defeats the purpose
- if you can't obtain a release, the only place to submit an art work is the editorial section, provided it has such value
- remember that there are products which simply won't make it in the commercial area: Haribo gummy bears and even cheap knock offs, Wunder Baum (the Wonder Tree that is hanging by your car's rear view mirror), Coca Cola bottle, yellow ducks with sunglasses, and the list can continue.

Always dreamt of going to New York?
- many buildings around the world are protected by copyright: Empire State, Sydney Opera House, MoMA, anything by Calatrava, Eiffel Tour (only at night), Guggenheim Museum and so on
- getting a property release to sell images with those buildings as commercial would be next to impossible and probably rather expensive.
- always consider the editorial section for buildings protected by copyright

Last but not least:
- keep in mind that you are responsible for the accuracy of your submissions
- check, double check and triple check at 100%
- if in doubt, you can send us an email and we will do our best to guide you
- don't forget to have fun.

Comments (41)

Posted by Haotian on May 26, 2014
Thanks for the useful information. I had no idea Eiffel was copyrighted, good grief.
Posted by Antonio1962 on February 22, 2014
A very usefull article.Thanks
Posted by Elifranssens on October 23, 2013
I think it might be useful to have a look at this DT thread, started by Achilles and which has been there since 2004:

Trademarks - what kind of images you shouldn't upload
Posted by Fredbro on September 29, 2013
Thanks for the tips!
Posted by Wiscan on September 27, 2013
One trick (which is painstaking) is to create your own adverts and labels to cover what was there and copyrighted like my image here. Even the images used in the 'fake' posters on the bus are mine. Buses with white blanks all over do not look real and don't sell as well. A lot of work, sure, but customers do appreciate the difference.

See image ID 1112978

Posted by Jerrywill on September 26, 2013
Thanks for sharing!
Posted by Jerrywill on September 26, 2013
Thanks for sharing!
Posted by Jerrywill on September 26, 2013
Thanks for sharing!
Posted by Qin0377 on September 22, 2013
Thank you very much! It is of great help to upload my photos!
Posted by Nikitu on September 16, 2013
Jonybigude, sure you can use, please provide a link back to my original article.
Posted by Xin366 on September 14, 2013
Thanks,Interesting and very useful article´╝îThanks again
Posted by Jonybigude on September 14, 2013
This is a great entry!! I wonder if I can use it on my e-magazine: www.northernlandscape.org, can I??
Posted by Tonnywu76 on September 10, 2013
Thanks for a good reminder.
Posted by Fallostupido on September 10, 2013
thanks you;I sent this photo with editorial license:
Posted by Vennys on September 09, 2013
thanks,interesting and very useful article .)
Posted by Nikitu on September 09, 2013
Sagearts, there are some buildings and sculptures that can't be approved, even as editorial.
Posted by FabioConcetta on September 09, 2013
Thanks for your sharing!!!
Posted by Sagearts on September 07, 2013
I was told that a series of images of a Calatrava building that I submitted were not even allowed under an Editorial license. Have things changed, or is that simply an optimistic word of encouragement?
Posted by Famed01 on September 05, 2013
Thanks for sharing!!!
Posted by Babar760 on September 04, 2013
What a royal pain! Everyone wants a piece of the action. Too many lawyers with not enough clients so they're going after the scraps at the bottom of the barrel. In 10 years we'll need a model and property release for virtually every photograph!
Posted by Joe1971 on September 04, 2013
Thanks for your sharing!
Posted by Teabum on September 04, 2013
Very good reminder. Thanks for sharing :)
Posted by Nikitu on September 04, 2013
Lejoch, panoramas are usually ok.
You can do a search on Google and see if the respective building is protected or not. Unfortunately there is no exhaustive list on the internet to contain all copyrights.
Posted by Lejoch on September 04, 2013
Very useful and well written. However, how can I know if a building is protected by copyright or not? What about "freedom of panorama" ( Copyright Wikipedia)?
Posted by Nikitu on September 04, 2013
Brad, it is the buyer's responsibility to read and respect the terms and conditions of the license they are purchasing.
Posted by Celiaak on September 04, 2013
It is never too much to recall those copyright issues.
Posted by Suyerry on September 03, 2013
Thanks for sharing. Will be very helpful to many!
Posted by Suyerry on September 03, 2013
Thanks for sharing. Will be very helpful to many!
Posted by Egomezta on September 03, 2013
Thanks for sharing, great blog.
Posted by Rigsby8131 on September 03, 2013
Really useful blog. Many thanks for sharing!!!

 2 >
 of 2

Comments (41)

This article has been read 9304 times. 20 readers have found this article useful.
Photo credits: Alphaspirit, Fantasyart, Kim Carlson, Opindraws, Photoeuphoria, Zhukovsky.

About me

Senior Editor, Remote Editors Coordinator, and Social Media Wizard at Dreamstime. I have enjoyed photography ever since my father first introduced me to the world of arts as a child. Although I have not chosen a career as a photographer I happened to come across a job here, at your favorite microstock site, in 2005. That is when things took a 180 degrees turn and photography took its well deserved place in my life. I have seen hundreds if not thousands of photographers grow and mature into their portfolios and that is an experience I would never trade. I would encourage anyone to follow th... [Read more]

Bucharest, RO

Blogs Exclusive user
October (2)
September (1)
June (2)
May (2)

Stock Photography that BLOGS!

Interact, make friends, share tips and techniques, have fun. Dreamstime wants your ideas and thoughts whether you are a photographer, designer or regular user. Create a blog to tell your story, promote favorite images and photographers, post tutorials or simply exchange opinions with your with fellow dreamstimers.

Don't forget words and pictures go great together so make sure you choose some Dreamstime favorite pics to brighten your article. For inspiration, check out the hottest or the most useful blogs on the left.

Create a blog to tell your story, promote favorite stock images and photographers

Create your blog

My favorite articles


More favorite articles

Related image searches

copyright microstock tips buildings art

Copyright related stock images