Frequently Asked Questions

Statistics

How can I find out which content has been downloaded from my portfolio?
Why are my customer referral earnings not showing up on my stats page?
Why are my contributor referral earnings not showing up on my stats page?
Why are my footage referral earnings not showing up on my stats page?
How much does the referral program pay?
Why is there a discrepancy between the info in “Download Stats” and the World Map and graphs on my homepage?

Submitting Photos

What can I do if I receive an error when I try to submit my content?
What are your requirements for keywords?
Why is my content not showing up in “Popular” search results?
Why is my content not showing up in “Relevant” search results?
Can I share my content with other contributors?
How do I re-submit content that was previously approved?
Why was my content not approved?
Does Shutterstock accept Public Domain content?
How do I submit photos, illustrations and vectors for review?
Why was my content not approved for Trademark or Copyright reasons?
What is the On The Red Carpet Program?
How do I edit Keywords, Categories, Descriptions, or delete approved content?
Why is uploading disabled for my affiliate account?
Why is my approved content not viewable online?
How do I upload my content with an FTP client?
How long does it take for content to be reviewed?
Why was my content not approved while similar content is on your site?
What are your technical requirements for photographs?
How do I submit footage?
What can I do if my upload failed?
What can I do if my review has taken longer than 7 days?
What are the requirements for vector files?
Is your review process automated?

Payment

What do I need to do if my personal information changes or if I make an error on my tax form?
Why didn’t I receive my payment?
Why was money taken out of my earnings?
Do I need a U.S. Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) if I am filing a form W-8?
How do I file my tax form if I live in more than one country?
Why are my gross earnings reduced to zero?
What forms do I need to send to Shutterstock for tax purposes?
How do I know if you received and approved the tax form?
I received a tax form from Shutterstock, what does this mean?
Why do I still need to fill out tax forms if I am not from the U.S.?
How do I submit a tax form W-9?
How do I submit a tax form W-8?
How will I get paid?
How do I make changes to the information on my electronic form W-8?
How much will I earn?
How do I know if I am submitting to Shutterstock as an individual or as a business entity?
I have not received any payment yet. Why do you still want my tax form?
When will I get paid?

Editorial Stock

What are the requirements for editorial content?

General

What can I do if my content or concept is stolen and on a site outside of Shutterstock?
How do I refer a friend?
Where can I go if I forget my login information?
What can I do if I believe others are violating the terms of service but it does not concern my content or account?
What can I do if I think my Shutterstock content is being misused by a Shutterstock customer?
What happens to my account if I die?
Can I change my “Copyright” name?
How do I change my address?
What can I do if my content was removed by Shutterstock?
Can I change my username?
Why are some of the Darkroom Tools not functioning?
Can I change the name in the “Make Checks Payable To” field?
How do I remove my content from the online portfolio?
What can I do if my Shutterstock watermarked content is posted on another site?
What can I do if I am not a Shutterstock contributor and my content is available on your website?
Can I open another account or share my account?
What is the referral program?
What should I do if my account has been warned, suspended, disabled, or terminated by Shutterstock?
How do I close my account?
What can I do if my content or concept is stolen and on Shutterstock?

Model Releases

Where can I learn more about Model and Property releases?
Are some photo subjects restricted for legal reasons?

Statistics

How can I find out which content has been downloaded from my portfolio?
The “Stats” section of your account provides the most detailed and accurate analysis of all your downloads. Each download is logged into the “Download Stats” section almost as soon as it happens.
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Why are my customer referral earnings not showing up on my stats page?
You will earn 20% of all the sales you generate on the first subscription that is purchased after the customer you referred used your referral link. If your referral has stopped generating income it may because the customer’s purchase did not meet these qualifications. In addition, we maintain a three-month probationary period on earnings from referrals as a fraud prevention measure. You can track of your delayed earnings here.
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Why are my contributor referral earnings not showing up on my stats page?
Make sure the customer or contributor you referred use the custom referral link associated with your account. (Click here to see your custom referral link.) Only the link will create a successful referral. If you did use the referral link and aren’t seeing your referral earnings, it is possible that your earnings are delayed. We maintain a three-month probationary period on earnings from referrals as a fraud prevention measure. You can track of your delayed earnings here.
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Why are my footage referral earnings not showing up on my stats page?
Referred footage sales will generate a 10% commission for you for one year from the date the person you referred to us becomes a Shutterstock submitter. If the person you referred has stopped generating earnings, it may because the year has passed. You can check how much money you're making from referred sales on your submitter stats page.
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How much does the referral program pay?
You will receive 20% of the sales you generate from referred customers (up to US$200 per sale). For referred contributors, the payout is US$0.03 per image and 10% per video downloaded from the referred contributor’s catalog.
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Why is there a discrepancy between the info in “Download Stats” and the World Map and graphs on my homepage?
“Download Stats” contains the most up-to-date record of your downloads. The world map and graphs on your homepage may have a slight lag. Also, the map is a loop showing where in the world your most recent downloads have occurred, which is why you may see the same download multiple times.
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Submitting Photos

What can I do if I receive an error when I try to submit my content?
If the Content Editor suggests different keywords or different spellings for keywords that are actually correct, you can bypass these messages by simply clicking "submit" again.
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What are your requirements for keywords?
Please be sure that keywords are accurate and relevant. Always operate with the idea that quality is far more important than quantity when it comes to keywords. See the keyword section of Shutterbuzz to learn exactly what we are looking for.
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It can take time for an image to register as “popular.” Our “Popular” sorting option uses an algorithm that orders the results based on which ones are popular in a sustained way, as opposed to favoring images that have been on the site longer or were initially popular but had no staying power.
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Our “Relevant” search algorithm was built as a way to deliver more accurate search results from keywords for Shutterstock subscribers. “Relevant” is a sophisticated algorithm that considers a mix of factors. It rewards images with accurate keywords, not those with the most sales or most keywords.
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Can I share my content with other contributors?
No. Under no circumstance do we allow contributors to share their content with other contributors. If we find out that you have shared your content, you risk immediate and final termination from Shutterstock.
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How do I re-submit content that was previously approved?
While we do not recommend uploading previously approved content, there are certain situations where it is unavoidable. We ask that you provide a note to the reviewer explaining the improvements you made to the content in question and mentioning the image or clip ID number of the original image. Simply deleting and resubmitting unaltered content without Shutterstock approval, for whatever reason, is not permitted and may result in warnings or suspension from Shutterstock.
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Why was my content not approved?
We are constantly improving our review process to maintain fair, high standards and to provide you helpful feedback about your submissions. Please remember, our reviewers inspect all images at 100% magnification for quality. We recommend that you do the same with your content prior to submission in order to avoid unnecessary rejections. We also recommend that you post your content in the critique section of the Shutterstock Forum to get feedback from other contributors. If you have questions about a specific rejection reason, visit the “Rejection Reasons” section of Shutterbuzz.
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Does Shutterstock accept Public Domain content?
No. Public domain images are typically images for which the copyright has expired. It is not easy to determine if an image is in the public domain, especially because copyright laws vary from country to country. Unfortunately, researching and verifying the copyright status of public domain images is not practical as part of our review process. Presently we are enforcing our standing submitter guidelines, which state: "Submissions must be wholly owned by the submitter. Found or public domain images or footage cannot be submitted under any circumstances."
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How do I submit photos, illustrations and vectors for review?
Once you have successfully uploaded your content, log in to submit.shutterstock.com and click on “clips and images to be submitted” in Content Overview. Enter your keywords and image descriptions, and select categories. Attach Model releases and/or Property Releases by clicking “Releases: +add.” Select the images that are ready and click “Submit for Review.” If necessary, add a note to the reviewer.
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For legal reasons, images that show protected intellectual property are not suitable for commercial license. We maintain a list of Known Image Restrictions here. However, due to the dynamic nature of our business, new legal issues can arise, and no list is comprehensive.
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What is the On The Red Carpet Program?
Shutterstock can help you get access to cover special events like celebrity shots at premieres, concerts, or access to press areas of political and sporting events. You must have an active contributor account with at least 7 approved images on Shutterstock. Learn more about On The Red Carpet Request here.
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How do I edit Keywords, Categories, Descriptions, or delete approved content?
We encourage you to edit your keywords and categories to optimize the sales of your images. To do so, visit the Catalog Manager and double click on any image to edit it. To edit footage, go to “Status of submitted Footage” under “Stats,” and enter the clip ID number in the box “Edit Footage Clip ID” and click “Save.” Or, find your clip within the batch under “Approved Footage Clips.” Click the pencil icon to the right to edit your Keywords, Categories or Descriptions. Clicking the red X will delete your content permanently. It may take up to 72 hours to process any changes. Please make sure that any change you make to this descriptive information is both accurate and appropriate. If we find that you have added unnecessary information or are adding spam keywords, we will remove your content. You also risk warnings or termination for this behavior.
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Why is uploading disabled for my affiliate account?
An affiliate account allows you to refer contributors and customers to Shutterstock, but does not come with uploading privileges. To become a contributor, please sign up for an account on submit.shutterstock.com.
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Why is my approved content not viewable online?
Newly approved content can take up to 24 hours after approval to appear in your portfolio and in the “New” search result. It may occasionally take longer at peak times. Indexing in all other searches or categories may take up to 72 hours.
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How do I upload my content with an FTP client?
Please read our FTP tutorial here. To connect, use the email address and password associated with your Shutterstock contributor account. Your username will not work.
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How long does it take for content to be reviewed?
We review all uploaded content in a fair and detailed manner. As a result, some reviews may take up to seven days.
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Why was my content not approved while similar content is on your site?
While we strive to make all reviews as fair as possible, we are constantly adjusting and improving our review process to keep quality of the collection high.
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What are your technical requirements for photographs?
Photographs submitted by new contributors must be 4.0 megapixels, in JPG or TIFF format. There is no maximum size limit for photos. To determine the amount of pixels in an image, multiply the width by the length. For example: a photo that is 2400x1800 adds up to a total of 4.32 million pixels, so a photo of this size is valid. Check the image at 100% for focus prior to uploading. Remove any sensor dust, scratches (if scanned), or chromatic aberration (purple, red or cyan fringe around the edges in your photo). Check for and remove BOTH color noise and luminance noise. Do not over-sharpen, over-use noise reduction software, or overuse simple filters when working on your images in post-production. Please also see our Submitter Guidelines.
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How do I submit footage?
Once you have successfully uploaded your content, click on “clips and images to be submitted” in Content Overview on your home page. Enter your keywords and image descriptions, and select categories. Select the correct release for your content in the drop down menu “Release.” If necessary, add a note to the reviewer. Once your content is ready for review, click “Submit for Review” and add your releases.
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What can I do if my upload failed?
If you get an error message after you submit, try to re-upload your content. First check your file names. We only except files with alphanumeric characters, underscores, hyphens, and periods. Make sure all third party browser plugins are up to date and that you are using a supported web browser. If you are uploading with an FTP client, try going to “Your Account” and setting “Automatic FTP Processing?” to “No.”
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What can I do if my review has taken longer than 7 days?
First, check your inbox or spam folder to see if Shutterstock has emailed you about your content. If you did not receive an email from Shutterstock, go to “status of Submitted Photos/Footage” and check to see if there is an asterisk next to the batch. An asterisk indicates there were problems processing the images or footage, and you should resubmit the content.
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What are the requirements for vector files?
Vector illustrations must be EPS files compatible with Adobe Illustrator 10 or 8, and cannot exceed 15 megabytes in size. Please read about our requirements for uploading vector files.
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Is your review process automated?
All content you upload to Shutterstock will be individually reviewed by a professional with significant experience in the creative industry.
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Payment

What do I need to do if my personal information changes or if I make an error on my tax form?
Please go to the Tax Center and fill out a form W-8 again or send us a new form W-9. Your most recently submitted form will override your previously submitted form.
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Why didn’t I receive my payment?
There can be a number of reasons why you did not receive a payment: - You may not have reached your minimum payout by midnight New York time on the first of the month. - If you are a U.S. citizen or resident it is possible that we still need you to file your form W-9. - Any changes related to your payout will be applied to the next payout period if these changes were made after the last day of the month. - Your payment may have been delayed due to referrals and other sources. Please check your delayed Earnings to see when you are eligible to receive payment. - Please verify your mailing address in “Your Account” is correct if you receive payment by bank check. - PayPal and Moneybookers may not be accepted in all countries. Please check their websites to see if you may receive payments from PayPal before signing up with them. - Please verify that your Paypal or Moneybookers email address in “Your Account” is correct.
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Why was money taken out of my earnings?
The most likely reason money may be subtracted from your earnings is that content was returned by a customer and their purchase was refunded. In addition, under U.S. law we are required to withhold up to 30% of your earnings from U.S. based downloads for tax purposes if you are a non-U.S. citizen or resident.
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Do I need a U.S. Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) if I am filing a form W-8?
It is okay to leave line 6, U.S. Taxpayer Identification Number, blank if you are submitting to Shutterstock as an individual. If, however, you submit as a business entity, a TIN will be necessary. You can obtain a TIN by completing a form SS-4 and returning that form to the IRS. After the IRS has received your form SS-4, it will send your personal TIN to you. Please see more information and instructions in the Tax Center.
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How do I file my tax form if I live in more than one country?
For the purposes of part 4 and part 9 of form W-8, you are a resident of the country to which you are required to pay income taxes. This is the country that should be your residential address in your Shutterstock account, and should also be on your form W-8.
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Why are my gross earnings reduced to zero?
When you reach your minimum payout level on the last day of the month, a payment will be processed and your Gross Earnings will be reset to zero to start a new earnings period. At that time you will also receive an email from us notifying you of the pending payment. Once your payment has been processed around the 15th of the month, your earnings will be shown in your payment history, which can be accessed under "Stats" on your contributor home page.
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What forms do I need to send to Shutterstock for tax purposes?
If you are U.S. citizen or resident, please send us a form W-9. You may download a form W-9 at this link. If you are not a U.S. citizen, please send us a form W-8. Visit our tax center for more information and to find an electronic form W-8.
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How do I know if you received and approved the tax form?
Once the form has been reviewed and accepted, the notification at the top of your homepage will disappear.
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I received a tax form from Shutterstock, what does this mean?
Once a year we send out form 1099 to U.S. citizens or residents and form 1042-S to non U.S.-citizens or residents. This is an information tax statement used to report U.S. source income and any withheld income to the Internal Revenue Service. If you file U.S. income taxes you should attach a copy of this form to your federal and state tax returns. If you do not file in the U.S. you may or may not have to file the form with your tax authorities. In any event you should retain a copy of the form for your records.
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Why do I still need to fill out tax forms if I am not from the U.S.?
Under U.S. tax law, we are required to collect certain information from royalty recipients who are not residents or citizens of the U.S. and provide it to the U.S. Government. In most cases you will not need to pay any taxes if you file a form W-8. In some cases, we are obligated by law to withhold a portion of royalties. To see how much taxes you pay after submitting your form W-8, please review our list of treaty countries here. Please note that if you do not submit a properly completed W-8 form, a 30% withholding will apply to your U.S. source earnings.
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How do I submit a tax form W-9?
You can send us your form W-9 in one of three ways: 1) Email it to submit@shutterstock.com. 2) Fax to: 347-626-2455 (our submitter forms fax number) 3) Send it by postal mail to: Shutterstock LLC ATTN: Submitter Forms 60 Broad Street, 30th Floor New York, NY 10004
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How do I submit a tax form W-8?
Form W-8BEN must be submitted digitally on our site through our tax center. Please do not submit your Form W-8BEN via email, fax, or standard mail.
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How will I get paid?
We offer three payment options: Paypal, Moneybookers, or bank check (drawn on U.S. funds). You can change the payment method in “Your Account” under “Resources.” You set your minimum payout (at least $300 for check or $75 for electronic payment). The check will be sent to the mailing address in your account.
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How do I make changes to the information on my electronic form W-8?
An electronic form W-8 takes the information from “Your Account.” To change your information on the form, please change the information in “Your Account.”
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How much will I earn?
Your earnings per download are based on the customer’s Shutterstock plan and the type of file that was downloaded. Please see our Earnings Schedule for details.
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How do I know if I am submitting to Shutterstock as an individual or as a business entity?
This is determined by your “Make Checks Payable” name. To review this go to the “Resources” section and click on “My Account.” To change your “Make Checks Payable to” name, please contact us at submit@shutterstock.com.
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I have not received any payment yet. Why do you still want my tax form?
You will be asked to fill out a tax form when your earnings have reached $10. Payments to U.S. citizens will be held until we have received your form W-9.
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When will I get paid?
Payments are calculated automatically at midnight New York time (EST) on the first day of the month, and will be processed on the first following business day. Payments are disbursed automatically no later than the 15th of the following month if you have reached your minimum payout level. You do not need to request the payment, as payments are processed automatically.
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Editorial Stock

What are the requirements for editorial content?
We require editorial content to be newsworthy and captioned in the following format (please pay special attention to formatting, phrasing, capital letters, and punctuation): CITY, STATE/COUNTRY – MONTH DAY: [Factual description of the image content] shown on [date] in [location]. Qualifying newsworthy statement of objective fact (if necessary). Images submitted as editorial simply to avoid our Model Release, Property Release or Trademark and Copyright requirements will not be approved for Shutterstock Editorial licensing. For more information on editorial captions, please read this Shutterbuzz article. For more information about editorial stock and model or property releases, please check the Model Releases section of this FAQ.
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General

What can I do if my content or concept is stolen and on a site outside of Shutterstock?
Please see our Shutterbuzz post “Protecting Your Content.”
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How do I refer a friend?
Go here or go to the “Promotion” section and click on “Referral Program.” Use the custom links, banners, or interactive search boxes to spread your referral link. When your friends click on this custom link, a 30-day cookie, which includes your referrer ID, will be stored by their web browser. If the person who clicked the link registers on the Shutterstock site within those 30 days, your referral ID will be associated with their account. Only users who arrive through your referral link will count as referrals.
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Where can I go if I forget my login information?
You may use your email address or username to log in. If you forgot your password, please click here and enter the email address that is associated with your account. A reset link will be sent to you within a few seconds. Check your spam folder if you didn’t receive the email.
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What can I do if I believe others are violating the terms of service but it does not concern my content or account?
Please contact infringementclaims@shutterstock.com with the following information: - The image ID number of the Shutterstock image in question. - A link to the image in question. - The alleged infraction. Be sure to make your email concise and clear so we may process your claim as quickly as possible.
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What can I do if I think my Shutterstock content is being misused by a Shutterstock customer?
Please familiarize yourself with the subscriber terms of service and our licensing policies first, because the usage may be allowed: http://www.shutterstock.com/licensing.mhtml. If you still feel that your content is being used inappropriately, see our Shutterbuzz post “Protecting Your Content.”
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What happens to my account if I die?
Shutterstock honors the instructions of estate representatives worldwide. As an example, your portfolio may be transferred over to a beneficiary if it is mentioned in a will that is reviewed and approved by a lawyer or notary public. Your beneficiary should approach us with the necessary paperwork for an account transfer to take place. The best thing to do is to seek legal counsel as part of your estate planning process.
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Can I change my “Copyright” name?
You can change your display name on shutterstock.com at any time by logging into your contributor account, clicking on “Your Account” under “Resources” and editing the “Site Copyright Display Name.” It may take up to 72 hours for your change to be processed by all our servers.
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How do I change my address?
Go to “Your Account” under “Resources.” Click the “Change of Address Form” link at the top of the page. Make the changes and click “Request Change of Address.” We will process the request accordingly.
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What can I do if my content was removed by Shutterstock?
At our discretion, we may remove images or footage whenever we see fit. Reasons may include legal concerns, quality concerns, or efforts to improve the integrity of our collection. If your image has been removed, please consider this a final decision. We will not entertain requests to restore your content if it has been removed by an administrator.
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Can I change my username?
For security reasons, your username can never be changed.
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Why are some of the Darkroom Tools not functioning?
Darkroom showcases new experimental Shutterstock features that we may develop for our main site in the future. These tools are all in beta mode, meaning that they are still in the building process. If you experience a technical issue or have a comment, please report it via the green Feedback Tab on the left of the Darkroom page.
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Can I change the name in the “Make Checks Payable To” field?
Please keep in mind that the name in the field “Make Check Payable To” belongs to the person who owns the copyrights to all content that is uploaded in the account, and that you will be transferring ownership of all content in the account if you change the name. To proceed with this, please contact us at submit@shutterstock.com.
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How do I remove my content from the online portfolio?
You may remove your content from our website by opting out of sales. If you opt out, your referral earnings will continue to accumulate and a payment will be made when you reach the minimum. Opt out by going to “Your Account” under “Resources.” You will not need to re-upload your content if you decide to return to Shutterstock at a later date. Simply opt back in and your content will be back online. It can take up to 72 hours for these changes to show in your portfolio.
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What can I do if my Shutterstock watermarked content is posted on another site?
Please contact infringementclaims@shutterstock.com with the following information: - Your username. - The image ID number of your image. - A link to your image. - A link to the website with the image and information about the image’s location. Be sure to make your email concise and clear so we may process your claim as quickly as possible.
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What can I do if I am not a Shutterstock contributor and my content is available on your website?
Please contact infringementclaims@shutterstock.com with the following information: - The image ID number of the Shutterstock image in question. - A link to the image in question. - Materials that prove you own and/or created the content. This can include .psd files (layered), RAW files, links to your website, or the location your content is hosted.
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Can I open another account or share my account?
Under no circumstance do we allow contributors to open more than one account, share their account with other individuals, or share content between accounts. If we find out that you have more than one account, or shared your account and content, you risk immediate and final removal from Shutterstock.
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What is the referral program?
Through the referral program you direct new customers or contributors to Shutterstock through a custom referral link in your account. You can find this link in the “Referral Program” tab under “Promotion” in your account. With an active referral you get paid for each download from a referred contributor or a percentage of a subscription from a referred customer. If you only wish to refer others to Shutterstock without becoming a contributor, you can sign up for an account on our Affiliate site.
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What should I do if my account has been warned, suspended, disabled, or terminated by Shutterstock?
Only contact us if you have been asked to do so, but do not write in repeatedly. We will work hard to resolve your issue as soon as possible and will contact you if more information is necessary. Account closure (termination) decisions are final. You may not open a new account, share your content with other contributors or have your account reactivated if your account has been terminated.
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How do I close my account?
If you wish to remove your content from your portfolio we recommend you opt out of sales. If you prefer to close your account instead, please contact us at submit@shutterstock.com with the following information: username, email address associated with your account, and reason you wish to close the account. Please keep in mind that closing your account means that you will not accumulate earnings or collect any outstanding payments. Additionally, previously approved content will need to be resubmitted and reviewed again if you decide to return at a later date. It can take up to 72 hours for these changes to show in your portfolio.
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What can I do if my content or concept is stolen and on Shutterstock?
Please contact infringementclaims@shutterstock.com with the following information: - The image ID number of the Shutterstock image in question. - A link to that image. - Your username. - The image ID number of your image. - A link to your image. Be sure to make your email concise and clear so we may process your claim as quickly as possible.
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Model Releases

Where can I learn more about Model and Property releases?
Please read more about our release policies here. You can download blank releases here.
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