This document provides guidelines for when you need a property release.

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The following is for information purposes and is not an exhaustive list. 

Property release overview

You may be required to fill out a property release when you submit content to Adobe Stock containing recognizable places, buildings, or other property—such as pets, automobiles, or artwork. This legal form must be signed by the owner of the property or a corporate representative if the property is owned by a company. A property release provides written permission from the property owner identifying the subject and consenting to its use for commercial purposes. Without a release, your photographs can’t be used for commercial purposes.  

Property types that may require a property release:

  • Famous landmarks, historic locations, and modern architecture
  • Copyrighted works like art, books, maps, fictional characters
  • Identifiable exterior or interior of private homes and buildings
  • Distinctive product shapes like toys, bottles, luxury furniture, vehicles, airplanes
  • Unique animals, such as race horses, famous pets, certain zoo animals
  • Properties with photography policies, which may include stadiums, museums, concert venues, amusement parks

For more information on subjects with intellectual property, privacy, and other photography restrictions, see Known image restrictions.

You can download a property release template from the Adobe Stock Contributor portal, find it here, or use the new Adobe Sign tool on the Contributor portal. With Adobe Sign and the property owner’s email address, you can send a release straight from the portal for easy signing. The process is straight forward and there’s no need to download any software to make it work. For information, see Upload a model or property release.

Download our detailed checklist to confirm that you are including all required information:

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Private homes and buildings

If you’re photographing, filming, or even illustrating a recognizable property you probably need a property release. There may be an exception if the property appears in a minor way and isn’t the main subject of the image or video, such as urban skylines with several buildings.

Some examples include: 

  • A ticketed location like an amusement park, museum, palace, or estate, 
  • Distinctive homes or parts of homes (including interiors) that are easily recognized, either by their design or by their owner, like Gaudi’s Casa Batlló in Barcelona. 
  • Private property that is recognizable as a landmark or business and is central to the photograph/film/illustration, like the Burj Al Arab in Dubai.  

When you don’t need a release

Not all property photos require releases. If your content feature generic houses and interiors that don’t have any identifiable features, you’re in the clear. 

Generic house
Generic houses do not need releases

The same applies to generic street scenes or cityscapes.

Generic street scene
Generic street scenes and cityscapes do not need releases

Broad cityscapes, such as the one below, that don’t have a single point of focus don’t require property releases. But if you single out a building as the main subject of the photograph, you need a release. 

Broad cityscape
Broad cityscapes without a single point of focus don't need releases

Landmarks and monuments

You may need property releases for images or videos of famous buildings and landmarks. In general, images/videos of historical monuments that are more than 120-years-old don’t require releases. 

Statue of Liberty
Historical monuments more than 120-years-old generally don't require releases

However, if the structure has been modified in any way, you must obtain a property release from the new architect. For example, the Eiffel Tower was built in 1889, but the light installation was added in 1985. A photograph of the tower in daylight doesn’t require a release. However, a nighttime photo featuring the light installation needs a release, because French copyright law recognizes its artistic merit.

Eiffel Tower in the daytime
Watch for exceptions, the Eiffel Tower is fine in the daytime but not when featuring its light installation

Public transit and unique places

You need explicit permission from public transit systems to photograph or film on location. Also, like other products and services, most metro lines have trademarks and copyright protections on signage, maps, logos, route indicators, buildings, and more.

All trademarks and copyright-protected items must be removed from the photos, videos, or illustrations before you submit them.

Here are some examples of photos where you don’t need to include a property release:

Subway station
A generic subway station with signs scrubbed doesn't need a release

Generic storefronts and signs that have been “scrubbed” (that is, recognizable names have been removed) are fine to submit without a release.

Generic stores and sign
A generic sign that has been scrubbed of identifying features does not need a release

As a rule of thumb, any identifiable business or private property requires a property release. Sometimes you get thrown a curve ball, like the case with the New York Stock Exchange. Only frontal depictions of the NYSE are trademarked, so if you photograph the building from the side, you won’t need a release.

New York State Stock Exchange
An image shot from the side of the New York State Stock Exchange does not need a release

Intellectual property

Objects

If your photo includes a logo or trademark you must scrub (remove) that object.

Generally, a release may not be required if objects are not identifiable and just part of the general scene.

Products and identifiable packaging cannot be the main subject of a photograph and some cannot appear in our content at all. See the Known image restrictions for examples. 

Accepted as an image of a generic coffee cup:

Generic coffee cup
This generic coffee cup was accepted into the collection

Art/artifacts

For works of art and artifacts including those you’d find in a museum, you need permission from the artist or the estate where the works are held. If you take photos or videos in a museum or gallery, you must refer to that entity’s rules about photography restrictions.

Modern artwork, including murals and sculptures located in public spaces, must be accompanied by a property release. If you are the artist, submitting an image of your own artwork, a property release is required.

If the art is not recognizable, no property release is required.

Blurred art
The art is blurred, so no property release is necessary for the art

Graffiti / street art

Graffiti and street art may be subject to copyright, so you need a release from the artist and/or building owner. If, however, the graffiti or street art is not used as a backdrop or main subject / foreground of the photo, then no release is required. 

No property release required (but a model release is necessary)

Men with graffiti behind them
Only model releases are required: The graffiti is not the main subject and therefore doesn't require a release

Tattoos

Tattoos are considered works of art, so you must consider the prominence of a tattoo’s display and the content of the tattoo itself. You don’t need a release if the tattoo isn’t the main focus of the photo. However, a property release is required in these cases:

  • The tattoo is close up and the primary focus.
  • The tattoo depicts celebrities.
  • The tattoo’s subject is trademarked or copyrighted (for example, a logo or character).

A person is identifiable by their tattoos, so most any photo of a person with tattoos requires a model release of that person even if their face is not part of the image.

If the tattoo artist is part of the image or may be identifiable in context of their tattoo art, a model release may also be required for them. 

Property release and model releases of both the artist and the customer are required.

Tattoo and artist
Property and model release needed for both tattoo artist and customer

Protected product designs

Product designs are protected by various intellectual property laws. They include trademarks like logos and symbols as well as design elements like shapes, colors, and other identifiable characteristics.

You may submit content of some products where all recognizable elements are removed (for example, if you remove all logos on shirts and shoes). However, below are a few examples of products that require a property release, even without logos, because they’re universally recognizable. Be advised that we can’t accept content that depicts objects like these, even without visible logos:

  • Rubik’s Cube
  • Red Cross
  • Christian Louboutin red-bottomed shoes
  • Hershey’s Kisses
  • Apple devices
  • Lego and Duplo building sets and figures
  • Crayola products
  • Louis Vuitton
  • Academy Award or “Oscar” statuette
  • UPS uniform (because even without logos, it’s still recognizable by its brown color)

Currency

Every country has its own stipulations when depicting currency.

Adobe rejects any images containing reproductions of currency where more than 75% of banknotes are visible in the image.

Accepted image of US bank notes: 

Dollars at 75% or less
No more than 75% of currency may show

Animals

Usually, animals and pets don’t need property releases, but there are a few extenuating circumstances for famous pets. For example, you’d need a property release for Grumpy Cat, Tyson the skateboarding bulldog, or Boo the Pomeranian. You also need property releases for zoo animals.

No release required:

Closeup of a chimpanzee
No release is required for this unidentifiable chimpanzee

For more information on subjects with intellectual property, privacy, and other photography restrictions, see Known image restrictions.

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