Shutterstock Unveils TRUST, its Best-in-Class Approach for Ethical AI

November 9, 2023

As the first to bring commercially safe AI to the industry, Shutterstock TRUST serves as a guide for brands and agencies seeking a framework for responsible AI

NEW YORK, Nov. 9, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Shutterstock, Inc. (NYSE: SSTK), a leading global creative platform connecting brands and businesses to quality content, today announced TRUST, an official guiding framework that embodies Shutterstock's long-standing values and commitment to using AI responsibly in its products and workflows. TRUST, an acronym for Training, Royalties, Uplift, Safeguards and Transparency, reflects the core commitments that Shutterstock has actively upheld over the last two decades. In an unregulated and rapidly evolving industry, this framework can also serve as an action-driven checklist for companies experimenting with AI technologies and reiterates Shutterstock's lifelong, contributor-centric operating principles.

TRUST's commitments include:

Training on properly licensed data
Royalties that compensate artists fairly
Uplift and promote representation that reflects the world
Safeguards to control content and protect customers
Transparency by default

"Maintaining the trust of our contributors and customers is at our core, and our TRUST framework affirms the actions we take to support this commitment," said Dr. Alessandra Sala, Senior Director of AI and Data Science at Shutterstock. "We've always trained on properly licensed data, sought out new revenue streams for our contributors and uplifted creators and underrepresented groups. TRUST formalizes these principles in a clear, straightforward approach that others in the industry can follow as they embark on their own responsible AI journeys."

Respecting the IP rights of artists is central to Shutterstock's business as a world leader in content licensing. This includes ensuring that our AI models are trained only on properly licensed content and requiring our AI partners to uphold the same standard. Shutterstock takes careful steps to ensure it has the rights to license the content on its platform, and that the content complies with our content standards.

Further, contributors are empowered with the option to opt out of data deals to respect their autonomy and preferences, however, to date only about 1 percent of contributors to the Shutterstock platform have chosen to do so.

Shutterstock's Contributor Fund is a testament to our commitment to supporting artists through compensation. To date, the Shutterstock Contributor Fund has compensated hundreds of thousands of artists, with anticipated payments to millions more, for the role their content IP has played in training our generative technology.

Our mission has always been to elevate inclusive content and invest in supporting and partnering with underrepresented content creators to achieve the broadest spectrum of representation. Shutterstock's teams strive to improve representation of different genders, ethnicities, and orientations, as well as to ensure a fair creative platform through initiatives like the Create Fund and partnerships with UN AI for Good and World Ethical Data Foundation. This also includes enhancing and expanding the usage of human-created stock content, ensuring our AI features empower advanced use of such content to support—not replace—the unique talent of artists.

Shutterstock pioneered advanced indemnity protections for a worry-free experience for its customers and their audiences, ensuring an ethical approach, legal integrity and brand safety through tailored protections and content controls.

Shutterstock's multi-layered content controls help to prevent the creation of content that displays adult themes, offensive themes or violence. These safeguards also include protection against AI training liability on all licenses of AI-generated content. Shutterstock Enterprise users can also receive the same protections for AI-generated content as traditional stock assets, while special cases receive an additional asset assurance.

In a survey conducted with Shutterstock Enterprise customers, more than 60 percent of respondents said that the most important criteria for them when choosing an AI platform is the guarantee of safe commercial use. Shutterstock is the only company to offer Enterprise users the option for a human review of their licensed content for indemnification.

Shutterstock believes in transparent AI practices and content provenance. It commits to a clear distinction between AI-generated and human-created content on the Shutterstock platform to help safeguard against deepfakes, disinformation and other forms of misuse. Shutterstock does not sell AI-generated content with unknown or unclear provenance and contributors cannot upload AI-generated content to Shutterstock's core library. Through support of and membership in the Content Authenticity Initiative, the company is also labeling all AI-generated content and metadata according to C2PA/IPTC industry standards to further protect its users with verifiable and tamper-evident information across all forms of content ensuring each asset is certified with secure metadata about its creation, authorship and edit history.

Shutterstock's ethical approach to AI has made the company a highly sought-after partner and collaborator with industry leaders such as NVIDIA, Meta, OpenAI, LG and others to develop foundational generative AI tools and standards for creators across 3D, images and text. Shutterstock's high-quality content library, enriched with vast metadata, leads the industry in size, diversity and annotation—making it unrivaled for training AI capabilities.

About Shutterstock, Inc.
Shutterstock, Inc. (NYSE: SSTK) is a premier partner for transformative brands, digital media and marketing companies, empowering the world to create with confidence. Fueled by millions of creators around the world and a fearless approach to product innovation, Shutterstock is the leading global platform for licensing from the most extensive and diverse collection of high-quality 3D models, videos, music, photographs, vectors and illustrations. From the world's largest content marketplace, to breaking news and A-list entertainment editorial access, to all-in-one content editing platform and studio production service—all using the latest in innovative technology—Shutterstock offers the most comprehensive selection of resources to bring storytelling to life.

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Lori Rodney,, 917-563-4991