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iStock - Stock Video Training Manual

7.3 - Legal Requirements: Copyright, Trademark and Trade Dress

iStock makes every effort to conform to International copyright legislation and other applicable law, with our principal jurisdiction in Canada.

Uploading someone else's video footage is strictly prohibited and a violation of the iStock membership agreement, the Artist's Supply Agreement, and other applicable law. You must be the copyright holder (original artist) of every clip you submit. Uploading any of the following is strictly prohibited and may result legal action depending on the severity of offense:

  • A video of a video.
  • Found video footage.
  • Stock clips from other stock agencies.
  • Video footage based on another work (where you are not the copyright holder).

For more information see the iStock Technical Wiki.

Copyright is very important to the iStock community and should be adhered to as closely as possible. Our inspectors do not accept files that contain:

Logos and Trademarks

Any readable company name, logo, element or design that represents or could identify a company or its product will ALWAYS be rejected by iStock.

Trade Dress / Protected Design

Generally, identifiable “product” style footage* should be handled with extreme care (for trade dress - the protection of design). If the inspection team feels that the product design represented as the main subject of a clip is protected, it will be rejected unless accompanied by a property release.

* Footage where the product is the main and primary subject.

How to use a product in your composition:

A modern product should be avoided as the primary composition where its potential use could endorse another product, company, business or corporation. A product should be used as an accompaniment to the overall concept of composition.

Cars Acceptable:

Cars Not Acceptable:

NOTE: Under no exception (unless with a property release) is video footage from car shows acceptable.

Toys Not Acceptable:

NOTE: Characters (i.e. such as Barbie) in general are subject to protection no matter the composition usage.

Electronics Technology Acceptable:

NOTE: The higher the mass production or older the product, the more unlikely it is still protected by trade dress.

Electronics Technology Not Acceptable:

Protected Designs: Maps & Globes

The design of a map and/or globe is owned by the creator and/or the company which commissioned the artist. Map and/or globes as part of a composition should NEVER be clearly identifiable.

How to use maps & globes in your composition:

Use motion or post-processing (changing the color) to distort any clearly identifiable designs or elements. Position the maps/globes in the background rather than foreground to blur (DOF) the map/globe from being easily identifiable.

Maps & Globes Acceptable:

NOTE: Public domain satellite imagery (such as NASA) are acceptable only when the source is credited in your description.

Maps & Globes Not Acceptable:

Public Buildings

Every public building has different requirements for videographers to access and record land, structures, contents, interiors and exteriors. Check with the security office and obtain consent, if possible. Some buildings may have information about commercial photography posted on their web site. (Exception: Any building (with logos removed) as part of a cityscape is acceptable as part of video footage. Under no exception is a video of a private building taken from within the property acceptable without a property release)

For more information on specific building structures see the iStock Technical Wiki.

Identifiable Information

Information that may identify an object or property requires the identifying mark or text to be removed or a property release to be obtained. Identifying marks include; license plates, airplane call letters, boat names, addresses, identification, credit cards, etc.

Privacy & Residential Homes

In accordance with privacy rights, residential homes (as clearly recognizable in the video) will ALWAYS require a property release, irrelevant if the home number is visible in the footage.

Sports & Sporting Events

Sport figures, uniforms, team insignia and professional athletes will NOT be accepted unless accompanied by a model release. Professional sporting events are strictly protected by the venue and NOT allowed in the use of royalty-free stock footage.


Only statues dating older than 75 years of age (with exception to private ownership) are acceptable as part of public domain as part of video footage. Sculptures, figurines, installations, modern art any object in a museum, any object in an art gallery, including public sculpture, some architecture, advertisements, other videography (a video of a video) is likely protected and should be accompanied by a property release for use in royalty-free stock footage.

Vintage Video Footage

Vintage video footage is only acceptable if the video has been inherited from the original creator (family member), passing down copyright ownership. Vintage video footage submissions should always be accompanied by a property release (and model release where appropriate).

Video Editing & Mashing

When working with multiple layers and effects within a video, all elements must be under the copyright ownership of the creator. Under no exception is found video or elements allowed to be used within a video for submission on iStock.

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