One of the common refusal comments is "The image contains elements that might be protected by copyright/trademark (logos, brands, specific buildings etc.)... Read more: https://www.dreamstime.com/thread_148".
I have my fair share of refusals with this comment.
The original photo of the above image was rejected with the copyright / protected element comment. As you can see, it is a very simple photo of a yellow safety helmet sitting on a plastic barrier. Where's the copyright, trademark or protected elements?
I scrutinized the photo, looking at every details to see where is the culprit! Found it, corrected and re-submitted.
It goes to show that we have to be very aware of the contents in our photos.
A scenery photo like the one above may not be an issue. However, if there had been a boat on the lake and there were some numbers or letters that could identify it, then it could become an issue.
So check your photos carefully and take the necessary steps to remove all protected elements, even if you think the detail is very insignificant. If you are not sure, remove it. Turn a potential refusal into an acceptance!
Thanks for your post, it is true that the copyright refusals sometimes make you run mad looking for the culprit as you mentioned, sometimes however it is more complicated: it has happened to me to get a refusal coz of some keywords, the English knowledge of the editor (a Romanian citizen I imagine from its second name) was not the best and he confused some genuine English words with Latin one's. (for example "herbivores"), just two days ago I got a refusal coz of writing with capital letters (!!??), caps lock on, he wrote. I checked and saw that he didn't know that the adjective of a country, that is nationalities, are written with capital letters (first one only of course!) in English, e.g. African, Kenyan children.
Even so I corrected (!) and resubmitted, interesting enough, the next day the photo had been accepted with the original capital letters and also the " irrelevant " keywords (this was another refusal reason) which I had removed while correcting the whole stuff.
if submit as editorial then image not need to remove any protected element