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French Deputies Want Labels On Photo-Altered Models 512

Psychophrenes writes "A number of French deputies are proposing to pass a law requiring all published photos that were modified by means of an image manipulation program to include a statement indicating that 'the photo was altered in order to modify the appearance of a person.' This indication is to be mandatory on all ads, packaging images, political posters and even art photos, and is considered a matter of public health, aimed at fighting anorexia." The related article is in French, but Google Translate does a pretty good job.
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French Deputies Moving Against Photoshopped Ads

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  • by davidwr ( 791652 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @10:31AM (#29503743) Homepage Journal

    Isn't the very act of scanning and printing using a computer a digital modification?

    What if the camera's software tweaked the lighting or white-balance as the picture was being taken?

    If all photographs are labeled, then the label becomes meaningless.

  • by davidwr ( 791652 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @10:34AM (#29503789) Homepage Journal

    Assuming the law only applies to "significant" digital retouching, will we see a resurgence in non-digital techniques to make people look skinnier on film?

    After all, we had skinny people in magazines long before the 1990s.

  • Why stop there? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheBilgeRat ( 1629569 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @10:35AM (#29503819)
    Why not make it mandatory to label surgically altered models also? I want to know the boobies I look at are all natural.
  • by polar red ( 215081 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @10:36AM (#29503823)

    f all photographs are labeled, then the label becomes meaningless.

    not necessarily, i think there are enough people around not knowing that photo's can be tampered with.

  • by agentgonzo ( 1026204 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @10:40AM (#29503891)

    I hope we'd finally get to know the truth about McDonalds hamburgers. Or can we count them as persons?

    You can barely count them as food, let alone persons/people.

  • men's magazines are full of pictures of... women

    women's magazines are full of pictures of... women

    except the women in men's magazines are usually well-proportioned in the t&a department

    meanwhile, the women in women's magazines are pure heroin chic: ribs showing, no curves. yuck

    i really don't know why, but for some reason the female standard of feminine beauty (as opposed to the male standard of feminine beauty) is starvation porn. women for some reason or another think the ideal female form is that of a prebuscent boy

    as for the magazine industry "creating" or "feeding" this phenomenon: no, if it didn't appeal to women on some level, the magazine wouldn't sell. media and consumer exist in co-dependency. media follows what its audience wants, for obvious reasons: $. (as an aside, this simple truth should dispel the whole idea of media-created trends on a whole number of other issues that some people believe: its the audience, not the media, stop blaming the media)

    if you want to know what men want and like in the female form, it is well-established fact, biological fact, not cultural, that men prefer women who are heck of a lot more well-fed than what women see as an ideal []

    the whole scary skinny trend in high fashion is created by, and perpetuated by, and invested in, by women, not men. yes, there are few strange men who actually prefer their women to be unfeminine stick figures, but these men are not the norm

    so girls, listen up, from the male perspective of beauty: go fix yourself a sammich. its your fellow women that want you to waste away, and on some archaic level we don't understand, its your own strange female mind that wants you to be so skinny, not us men

  • by bossanovalithium ( 1396323 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @10:43AM (#29503927)
    Imagine the kudos that would come about and the prized badge that a few pics without this tag would hold. It's time people were no longer brainwashed into this aspiration for what is clearly not possible without a few layers of photoshop. We'd all be a bit nicer to each other and ourselves if we started to accept the fact that no-one is perfect.
  • by Lord Ender ( 156273 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @10:45AM (#29503953) Homepage

    You sound like a programmer who is completely ignorant of how legal systems work.

    Laws aren't written like "if photo.is_manipulated() then display_disclaimer() end". They actually use words and sentences to express the intent of the law in a reasonable way. Cropping will not be considered manipulation; airbrushing will. Furthermore, even "gray area" can be part of law, thanks to an amazing technology called "courts."

    Basically, your objections are complete nonsense.

  • Simple (Score:4, Insightful)

    by whisper_jeff ( 680366 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @10:47AM (#29503973)
    As a graphic designer, allow me to simplify things - EVERY image published has been altered with photo manipulation software. Whether it's as minimal as colour adjustment or removing some insignificant blemishes from the image to outright "enhancing" of the image. EVERY image has been manipulated. Trust me.
  • Awesome! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Fantastic Lad ( 198284 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @10:50AM (#29504029)

    Right-on, France!

    I don't know if such a law can even work, but just the fact that this kind of thing is even being considered is really cool.

    My fellow male geeks don't truly get what girls go through and what a mind-job it does on them. But there IS one example which might resonate. . .

    Remember when all those new Star Wars toys came out, and all the characters you once identified with were now PuMpEd up? I know it affected me in a negative way, and I thought I was fairly impervious to such things. I found it surprising and illuminating.

    Advertising and media stereotypes fuck you in the head. Remember: Body hair was at one time not considered ugly on a woman. It wasn't until quite recently that this changed when a razor-blade company decided to start equating dirtiness with body-hair on women. Doubled the number of customers for its product. This was only a century or two ago.

    Fuck advertising. Rock-on France! If it wasn't for Sarkozy and the creep of evil, France would be the true hero of the world.


  • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @10:51AM (#29504045) Homepage

    It would have to be enacted first.

    Man, the French can't do anything right these days, can they?

  • by MindlessAutomata ( 1282944 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @10:54AM (#29504087)

    Seems like the longer our democracies go on, the more bureaucratic and insane they start becoming. This isn't "fascism," this isn't the will of the people being usurped, this is the system working as it should, and these are the results.

    It seems to me that democracy results in a sort of populistic legalism where you have thousands and thousands of little laws trying to create the perfect existence. But you can't make a perfect existence by putting strings on everyone and letting everyone else play everyone else's puppet master. Nobody can know even a fraction of the laws, yet break one that gets enforced and you're fined or jailed or forced into temporary involuntary servitude. Democracy may be freedom of the masses, but it's not freedom of the individual. The machine may be free to operate but the cogs are not free to turn. Is that really how you envision a free society?

    And once we start trying to plug every possible hole that could cause mental illness or otherwise undesirable behavior we become an even more nightmarish version of Brave New World, where instead of people being conditioned by birth the governments ("the people") try to heavily restrict and control all social influences because of the undesirability of emotional problems in society, the end result being an overall loss of individual autonomy and in particular freedom of speech.

  • by yogibaer ( 757010 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @10:55AM (#29504103)
    not Photoshop. As long as fashion models have to be under normal weight to be accepted for the top fashion shows and magazines, young girls will follow this role model and that is the real problem, not photoshopping bad skin. If you type "anorexic models" into any search engine you find a lot of gruesome stories about girls who literally starved themselves to death on the job. Alternatively: force yourself to watch "Fashion TV" for an hour. That's not a new problem ("Twiggy" turned 60 last week, []) and not one likely to be changed by any law.
  • by D'Sphitz ( 699604 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @10:56AM (#29504119) Journal
    Erik Paulsen made a attack ad where he darkened the skin of Ashwin Madia, apparently to make sure nobody mistook him for a white person.
  • by R2.0 ( 532027 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @11:05AM (#29504267)

    "It might be a little annoying reading a porn magazine which has the text "'the photo was altered in order to modify the appearance of a person." thrown all over it."

    I'm reminded of California's cancer "warning label" law. I stayed at a hotel a couple months ago, and there's a sign right at the door - "This building may contained substances known in the State of California to cause cancer." Same at the parking garage.

    Label everything, meaning nothing.

  • by PhxBlue ( 562201 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @11:08AM (#29504305) Homepage Journal

    As a photojournalist, I think it would be interesting to see just how many photos in fashion magazines are airbrushed or otherwise manipulated after the fact. In terms of ethics, I was taught and have come to believe that there are a few "ethical" manipulations -- cropping, limited use of burning and dodging, etc., that you can use while still maintaining the integrity of the original photo. But once you change what was actually there -- whether it's airbrushing the blemishes off a model's face or using the clone stamp tool to take a few pounds off her hips -- you've crossed into photomanipulation. And it's only fair for people to know when this is taking place, IMO.

  • by A coward on a mouse ( 238331 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @11:08AM (#29504319)

    Pictures of burgers are representative of the type of burger you can expect, you do not expect the exact burger that is in the photo otherwise they would have to take a lot of photos!

    I can only assume that one or more of the following is true:

    1. You have never seen a McDonalds hamburger.
    2. You have never seen a picture advertising McDonalds hamburgers.
    3. You are vision-impaired.
  • by qoncept ( 599709 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @11:18AM (#29504461) Homepage

    Isn't the very act of scanning and printing using a computer a digital modification?

    Yes, they are. And they pretty much always have been. All photos are pretty much artifact to a greater or lesser degree.

    No, it's not. Digitization and digital modification aren't the same thing. The comment about white balance and such done by the digital camera itself is more questionable, but I would think common sense would cover that.

    Models have always been shot with artificial make-up, hair, fans blowing their hair and carefully controlled lighting to create an artificial image of the person.

    Controlled, optimized, sure. But that is a real image of that person. If you're dropping chemicals on your film to cover a splotch on someone's face, that's altered, but slapping some baby oil on Arnie and having him flex or having Paris Hilton bend over and spread is just putting them in the position that makes them look best, not modification.

  • by Ian Alexander ( 997430 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @11:27AM (#29504615)

    They're like websites, except there's no video.

    But for how long? []

  • reverse the law? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tijnbraun ( 226978 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @11:31AM (#29504665)

    It might be easier to reverse this law:

    Any photo that has not been manipulated should indicate that 'the photo was not altered in order to modify the appearance of a person.'

    Might be a whole lot cheaper.

  • by geminidomino ( 614729 ) * on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @11:34AM (#29504729) Journal

    I didn't even have to click the link to remember Falling Down...

    Underrated flick, really...

  • by Rambo Tribble ( 1273454 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @11:37AM (#29504771) Homepage
    ... since the anorexia epidemic is so much greater a problem than the obesity one.
  • by lehphyro ( 1465921 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @11:40AM (#29504821)
    And what makes you think women wants to know what men like? They compete between themselves to see which one is the most beautiful, they dont need to make any efforts to appeal to men.
  • by cnvandev ( 1538055 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @11:42AM (#29504849) Homepage
    You're drawing the line, there, though? You're saying that the line which makes the picture "artificial" is when Photoshop's come in? Personally, I don't think most people spend most of their time oiled up, bent over and spread, so a picture of someone in a contrived pose with specific lighting and makeup is just as artificial as a person airbrushed. The trick isn't having a label telling people that "these pictures have been modified", it's to make it general knowledge that all magazine photos are in some way modified, just like how most semi-intelligent people realize that food pictures are mostly fake.
  • by davidwr ( 791652 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @11:50AM (#29504969) Homepage Journal

    In journalism, you are correct.

    In art, advertisement, and entertainment, photographers are far less conservative.

  • by misexistentialist ( 1537887 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @12:00PM (#29505117)
    Adolescent girls are generally skinny, and that is what women want to look like--young. Men might find the MILF form attractive, but for a woman it means the end of the line. Women also like clothes, and I believe it's easier to find ones that look good when you are skinny.
  • by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <> on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @12:09PM (#29505249) Journal

    Porn DEFINITELY needs more truth and less fiction. There are good reasons why this should be the case, not the least of which is how the ability to enjoy one's mate is hampered by artificial and unrealistic "ideals" being portrayed. People are riddled with imperfections.

    Actually atleast for me this made me hate the "normal", unrealistic porn which was the only one available as my teenage years from tv. Growth to hate it, and "the girl next door" type porn and the clips on tube sites work a lot better.

  • by !coward ( 168942 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @12:13PM (#29505295)

    I'm kinda torn on this one, actually. I get your point and I do agree with it, to some extent. This is clearly another "Think of the children" moment, but I can't say I don't see where this is coming from, nor that I disagree with the professed intention.

    It's the whole herd mentality/behaviour thing, far more than it is about peer pressure. This isn't about some kids pressuring another to be more like them. This is mainly about a stupid top-down mentality that has pervaded our society for quite some time (hundreds, thousands of years?), and reached critical mass when the fashion industry assumed the prominent role it has had for the past decades.

    The fashion industry is, just like any other industry/business, about making money. A good way to achieve this is by adapting other industries "planned obsolescence" model, which they've refined to an art form (literally) -- every single year there is a Spring/Summer collection and a Autumn/Winter collection, and every single year the "tendencies" shift. From colors, to materials, to styles (cuff/sleeve length, etc, etc), to accessories..

    Forget about the sheer wastefulness of the process (both in terms of money spent -- or thrown away -- as well as resources consumed .. the creed is: this year's stuff is "in", last year's stuff is "out"), this is nothing short of crowd control. And it's not just for the upper-class either, there's stratification in all levels of society. You're either "in fashion" or you're "so last Tuesday", and nobody likes being the latter.

    For some reason, women seem to be more prone to this than men. Heck, men's fashion even seems to shift less season to season than women's, but it still happens.

    Now add to this all the artificial layers put on by TV shows (even those conceived specifically for kids -- in some cases, these are actually the worse [it may be old-fashioned of me, but there's nothing I find more disgusting than shows that broadcast the notion that a 9/10/12 year old girl needs/*should* wear blush and eyeliner and mascara and lip gloss and all that crap, that she should basically be a little *woman*, as opposed to just enjoy her child/teenagehood]), movies, music (heck, even modern "fuck the system" genres are populated by make-up-laden metrossexual posers) -- there's just no letting up.

    And while adults are free to do whatever they choose, it's getting tougher for kids -- to the point where many don't even "grow up" until much later in their lives, despite *looking* like adults and claiming the perks that go with it -- which in turn either leads to a tendency to take bone-headed risks (12 year olds having sex?! 13 year olds becoming parents themselves?!), a tendency to crack under that pressure (the only ones gaining here are shrinks/therapists), or to be shunned as anti-social.

    Hell, High School has always been hard on kids. I'm guessing most people here can relate to the stigmas associated with that period. But it's really getting insane.

    It's probably too late to put the geenie back in the bottle, and this initiative won't amount to much (if anything at all), but it *is* sad that we, as a species, are indeed so sheep-like that, for the sole benefit of a few prima donnas and their bankers, we've let it come to this, where the proclaimed ideal for a beautiful/desirable women is just short of a terminal coke/heroin addict, covered in animal fat, artificial pigments and glittery stuff, wearing fake eyelashes, hair extensions and standing in the oh-so-healthy, oh-so-natural, 6" stiletto heels.

  • by natehoy ( 1608657 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @12:19PM (#29505385) Journal

    No, it's with the level of labeling laws. I don't have a solution, though...

    Food manufacturers who do not process peanuts or tree nuts are starting to label their product "warning, may contain traces of peanuts or tree nuts", because if it turns out that something goes wrong later on, they're covered. Some people are reportedly so allergic to peanuts that being in the same room with someone who has handled a peanut sometime in the last day emanates enough peanut fumes to kill or significantly harm them.

    So if a lineworker at the non-peanut-related-food plant has a BP&J for lunch and burps while operating the machinery, it could potentially contaminate a 1,000 gallon vat of soy milk enough to kill someone. So they put the disclaimer on there to cover themselves.

    I won't be surprised to find the same warning sticker on a ladder soon. "Warning: Product may be contaminated with traces of peanuts or tree nuts or phenylalanine or whatever. Wash thoroughly with your choice of strong detergent Warning: Read warning labels on detergent prior to use. Warning: This label may contain offensive content (graphic description of death and/or violence by inanimate objects), parental guidance suggested Warning: This label, while in visual text and braille, does not meet Equal Access requirements because it is not available in audio form, Mexifornia law requires that all salespersons read this and all labels to the consumer. Warning: Overlabeling may have offended some, we're terribly sorry if we hurt your feelings" Then someone with a vegetable dye allergy will sue because they are allergic to the label.

    I understand the reason for labeling, and I'm not against it, but manufacturers don't have the refined level of control over their suppliers they once did (if they ever did, frankly), so who's to say that the fried chicken you buy today that is cooked in canola oil might not use peanut oil next week? Better to just pre-print the warning label for every possible risk on ALL of your product so you can say "I did warn you" in case something happens and you get blamed for it.

    Which carcinogens are in the hotel? Gawd, who knows? It's a freaking HOTEL with guests coming in and out carrying all manner of toxic crap, and furniture and linens being replaced all the time, and cleaning products being used, and walls being painted with whatever was on special that week at Joe's Paint Emporium, selling snacks that contain peanuts at the snack bar and serving bread that contains wheat and milk that contains dairy products. Change anything from your favored brand of fabric softener to your Ethernet cables, and you potentially introduce a new carcinogen or toxin that's among a list of thousands that'll surely kill SOMEONE.

    Lawyer-man sez: Put up a sign that says "WARNING: This building will probably kill you in a violent, bloody, horrible way the moment you enter. Welcome!" and if it does, you've been warned! If it doesn't, hotel exceeds expectations, everyone wins.

  • Re:Food styling (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @12:21PM (#29505399) Homepage Journal

    "People at least do not dry up, wilt, sag, and turn funny colors"

    It takes more than an hour, youngster, but your turn is coming. Married, yet? You have so much to look forward to!

  • by chrb ( 1083577 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @12:24PM (#29505433)

    It's not clear that a porn magazine would be covered by this law, but adverts would be. We already have disclaimers in the UK for cosmetics adverts. They are actually quite informative. I saw one recently advertising some kind of shampoo and stating that it "enhanced vibrancy" and the models had ultra-bouncy curled hair, meanwhile the disclaimer at the bottom of the screen actually said something like "note: models did not use the advertised product. Models hair was formed by makeup expert." That kind of information makes a huge difference in how people perceive the advert. I've seen similar disclaimers for skin cream adverts, while the voiceover is saying how amazing the product is, the disclaimer says something like "In independent tests 28% of test subjects reported some improvement"; so now we know that 72% of test subjects reported no improvement with this product! I think the honesty in advertising laws are great, certainly a lot more amusing than the adverts we used to have a few years ago.

    Most people have no idea how how much touching up goes on. In the documentary Bigger, Faster, Stronger [] a photographer from the "protein shake" market is interviewed. He states that he has actually done photoshoots of the "before" (weakling) and "after" (muscleman) photos in the same day. That's right, what the advertiser claims to be some amazing muscle growth effect is actually just photo manipulation. It's completely dishonest. Oh, and the models admit using steroids. They say that if people are stupid enough to actually believe the photos, then they deserve to lose their money. Given the choice between this blatant corruption, where the uneducated and trusting are lied to and exploited for financial gain, and a regulated market, I'll choose regulation.

  • by pla ( 258480 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @12:39PM (#29505633) Journal
    You sound like a programmer who is completely ignorant of how legal systems work.

    He sounds like a programmer who has seen how the legal system works.

    Laws aren't written like "if photo.is_manipulated() then display_disclaimer() end".

    Nope, you have that 100% true - Because that would give a nice, easy, objective test of guilt.

    Instead, the law will describe 200 different varieties of manipulation, which the advertising industry will neatly get around ("Well, it didn't explicitly ban radioactive waste to give the subject a healthy glow"), while semi-pro photographers fear for their freedom if they dare to sell a decent shot to a local paper. It will include zero funding for enforcement but allow police to charge high-end cameras with a crime and thereby keep them. It will accidentally outlaw Gimp (but of course they'd never enforce that, wink-wink-nudge-nudge) but not Photoshop because of some obscure detail in their JPEG compression implementations. And finally, just for good measure, it will provide 50 billion dollars to build stronger levees in Nevada (or the French equivalent, I suppose).

    And I wish I meant this as hyperbole...
  • Re:Why stop there? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dontmakemethink ( 1186169 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @12:45PM (#29505739)

    Who cares if models' boobs are real or not? You'll never touch them!

    Ogle, wank, rinse, repeat. The rest is academic.

  • by clone53421 ( 1310749 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @12:58PM (#29505919) Journal

    In other news, Japanese women worry that their man might not find them sexy because they fear their pubic regions aren't pixelated enough.

    Really, I find this kind of hard to believe. Can you link me to something to back up this story?

  • If you've spent some time working with photographers, you know that moving a light just a tiny bit can dramatically change how much someone appears to weigh. Changing the colour of light - or even the colour of other nearby objects that reflect some light - can change someone from vibrant to sickly. And don't even get started on makeup.

    Those are bad examples, in that even if the result is a statistically improbable image, it is provably possible for that model to take on that appearance under those specific conditions. That's not in the same league image manipulations [] that give results that the model could never achieve without alterations to their anatomy.

  • Re:Why stop there? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gaspar ilom ( 859751 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @01:17PM (#29506155)
    Why not first create a legally-binding certification that declares that a photo was not manipulated? Similar to the way we have "organic" food or "cage-free" eggs? Such a system could be voluntary.

    The (possibly multiple) certifications would be rigorously defined, along the lines of:

    • "This photo was not altered in a post production process"
    • "This model was not surgically enhanced"
    • "This model has her original hair color"
    • "This model is not wearing makeup"

    ...All we need now are some short, catchy labels to brand & market these concepts.

  • Re:Yes, also add.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by clam666 ( 1178429 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @02:20PM (#29506985)

    Natural red-heads are clinically insane, whereas fake redheads are just easy.

  • by dcollins117 ( 1267462 ) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 @04:36PM (#29508561)

    Lesser burgers get reconstituted union bits.

    So that's what happened to Jimmy Hoffa...

Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.