New French law directed at doctored images

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by stemked, Oct 5, 2009.

  1. stemked

    stemked Moderator

    I thought Y'all might find this an interesting topic:,8599,1927227,00.html?cnn=yes With today's technology it would seem that this is going to be a hard law to enforce.
  2. stemked

    stemked Moderator

    There is also a little photo essay of the 10 most famous doctored images. I'm surprised the O.J. darkening image didn't make the cut.
  3. I think we have found the cure for the US obesity problem!
  4. Douglas: that's funny... since this is a Time article, and it was Time that did the infamous OJ treatment. I don't think it's surprising that that one somehow slipped off of their list.
  5. stemked

    stemked Moderator


    As soon as I saw your answer I began to laugh, you are dead right; OJ's was a Time photo.
  6. This proposal, which never will be adopted in the French Parliament, seems to be more discussed abroad than in France. However, is it any different from the good rule here on PN to make a cross if a photo is manipulated ? The proposer does not ask for covering parts of manipulated photos but to add a small message beneath to announce that this is not reality but manipulated reality. If it ends up under all photos in the published press, so be it.
  7. Would be nice if the mods actually read their forums...Old news, Douglas, here and elsewhere:
  8. Gary, do you seriously believe that the debate has ended "here and elsewhere" ? Who is to decide ?
    By the way your link does not work.
  9. A law giving French bureaucrats the power to decide what constitutes a "(p)hotograph retouched to modify the physical appearance of a person," and to fine violators $55,000. That can't possibly end badly.
    We should all be thankful for the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which the Supreme Court has concluded requires the state to demonstrate a compelling interest for laws passed that seek to abridge the freedoms of speech and press. The drafters of the Constitution and Bill of Rights were true geniuses.
  10. "(Is the proposed French law) any different from the good rule here on PN to make a cross if a photo is manipulated?"
    Yes, is a private website that asks posters to identify retouched photographs. Having government Retouching Police monitoring publications to pick out Photoshopped images that aren't identified as such, with the ability to levy stiff fines, is Kafkaesque.
  11. Except, Eric, that 'self-governed' things like this do in fact work quite effectively in some cases. The age/content ratings system for Hollywood movies, for example. There's no law that says a US cinema can't let a ten year old see an adult-rated movie. They will just lose their distribution deals and their business if they do. The idea that a French government department will be created to study or approve every advertising image is just not real, and all legislation starts out at an extreme and gets watered down.
    There is a watered-down proposal for something similar in the UK, that would require a coded representation of the modifications made to any advertising image featured in a magazine aimed at under-16s. This is an awesome idea to my mind, just because kids are much less able to make sense of the saturation-bombing of airbrushed and modified images out there. Ages 10-16 are when the body identity disorders, eating disorders and simple institutionalised self-loathing start, and I really think something has got to be done to make it clearer.
    My feeling is that they should go one further, and have a feature in the magazine, every month, where the production of a representative advert from the previous month is shown, start to finish.
    Does protecting freedom of speech really extend to shielding from scrutiny lies told to impressionable youngsters?
  12. You missed the point, Anders--and the need to register at the NYT. "Elsewhere" refers to this and the Portrait and Fashion forum over the last couple of weeks. All the French appear to be asking for is full disclosure of manipulation--not a ban, as erroneously interpreted in PN forums. But then maybe they take their celebrity worship less seriously than Americans.
  13. Michael, to be clear, I'm not against against private self-regulation and usually prefer it to government regulation. The proposed French law carries with it a potential $55,000 fine for violators- such a fine would have to be levied by a government body or a quasi-governmental body.
    You ask, "(d)oes protecting freedom of speech really extend to shielding from scrutiny lies told to impressionable youngsters?" In the U.S., the First Amendment, as interpreted by the courts would require your question to be asked, "(d)oes the government have a compelling interest in dictating that publishers put a disclaimer on every photograph of a person that has been run through Photoshop?"
    I would answer, "no, government has no such interest." I also believe that the burden is on parents to monitor what their children are reading and viewing, discuss the content and put the content in context for the child.
  14. Why do anybody imagine a "government Retouching Police" or a quasi-governmental body" to enforce such a law. Also in France do they have Courts for deciding on infringements. For those that read French, here is the proposal.
    The real question is whether manipulated pictures transmitting a falsified image of reality is detriment to public interest and well-being. By the way Gary is of course right that there is no proposed ban on anything. What the proposals demands is a mentioning of the fact that a photo is manipulated just like the mentioning on cigarette packages that smoking can kill.
    Personally, I think the proposal is outdated. As the proposer rightly says herself, probably 100% of all photos in fashion magazines are manipulated, but what she does not mention and she probably doesn't know is that 100% of the readers already are aware of it and do not see photos as reflections of reality.
  15. Just as a matter of interest, in France(where I live) the doctored image issue has become topical mostly due to the fact that the French president Sarkozy,has insisted on many occassions that photos of him published in private magasines,should be more....flattering.So the paradoxe is that it is not the law-makers that want the law,but the people who want things to be clear for everyone.If the French king..oops sorry..president orders his fat belly to be shown differently,then why cant I take of a few wrinkles off someone who needs a photo for there book cover?
  16. John, also living in France, I think that your presentation of the background of the proposal is somewhat flawed. However, surely the proposal has given way for such critics in the satirque press of Sarkozy and his obsession on how he is presented. Seeing his wife I would not blame him!
  17. Even if it did pass, it would be as successful as the restrictions on use of foreign phrases. The French do have a good record of bringing in legislation for some high-minded ideal to which the populace give their usual insouicant Gallic shrug and ignore it leading to the law passing to oblivion.
  18. "100% of the readers already are aware of it and do not see photos as reflections of reality"
    There is a difference between what you may consciously know (that these photos are doctored to make women look more beautiful), and what you subconsciously feel (that there is clearly a standard of beauty you do not and never will meet).
    The fact that this subconscious damage really does lead to depression, eating disorders, neuroses, broken relationships, and poor self-worth means that any measure that injects a little more honesty into the process is probably a pretty good thing, particularly in those cases where audience awareness of the scope for and extent of photographic modification is not universally understood (such as in magazines aimed at teenagers).
    Finally it might not be very popular to say it, but I think that this is a case where it should not be left to parents to moderate what their children are doing. The harsh fact is that parents haven't a clue what teenagers do, and if they do have a clue, they either lack the authority to stop it or can't bear to think about it. Since teenagers are soon to be adults, I think it would be better to (institutionally) equip them with the understanding that their parents probably lack: that computers can increasingly be used to change almost every aspect of a photo, and that no celebrity looks like his or her best photographic representation.
  19. Michael what you here write is the real question behind the proposal. I believe that what ever is written in small letters under a photo of a beautiful and attractive model will not distract the reader and as you write especially young children. What is maybe more needed is to put "image literacy" on the agenda of school education from a very young age just like reading literacy.
  20. If you can find me the cover of ONE magazine printed in the US that is NOT manipulated, I'll buy you lunch. I have an uncle who has worked in the graphics industry for 30 years doing this stuff on everything from billboards to porno mags. The only thing laws like this will do is weed out people who are not good at the job in the first place... which means that the editors weren't doing a good job at reviewing content. This is an entire field of a huge industry. Photographers and makeup artists and set designers do their part to build artifice when they can, but often in "photojournalistic" situations there are no makeup artists and set techs to make sure everything is perfect, so they shots go into post processing. As consumers we have come to expect perfect images, if that was reversed I'm sure many magazines would drop out of popularity.
    Now, in the case of newspapers and news journal magazines... there shouldn't be any room for extreme manipulation... except in extreme circumstances. Aren't there always exceptions to every rule? Anything beyond color balance, contrast levels, dust and artifact removal should not generally be tolerated. In the case of the Kent State shot, I think we have an example of an acceptable manipulation... but one which probably deserved an editorial note. We have a once-in-a-life-time image that the photographer botched and editors had to run what they had, so they made the difficult choice to "fix" the image. The fence post doesn't serve any other purpose in the image and is not related to the content in any way. Had it been something related to the content and purpose of the image, then I think it should not have been allowed. If it was a photograph illustrating how clean the streets in NY are and the editor had trash removed from the scene... then that's related content, and is a lie.
  21. "What is maybe more needed is to put "image literacy" on the agenda of school education from a very young age just like reading literacy."
    Anders, I think you hit the nail on the head. That is an excellent idea.
    (As a complete aside, should you ever get an education planner to listen to this idea, also suggest to them that they teach kids about the notion and mathematics of trees - decision trees, fractal trees, and tree searches - when they are taught about maths and logic. It's one of the most basic concepts in logic and information theory, and in planning/biology/probability, and I'd prefer to see it taught way before it is!)
  22. Anders,the motivation behind this law project ,has produced exactly what it was supposed to do,proof contained in your answer.But French or Swahila attitudes are completely off topic.Everyone is responsable for there photos.If we need to cheat to give an esthetic result...just to please.Then its all down to personal convictions.The problem is when photos are used,and abused, on a larger scale to promote things which are far beyond the control of someone who is simply,or is supposed to be,an objectif witness. PS I live in the Lot,If you want to shoot down here,there is room to stay.Cheers John.
  23. Patrick, excellent idea to have a lunch together that you will pay. In due time I will tell you where and meanwhile I'll look for an example.
    Concerning the curricula in schools, Michael, I agree with every word you write and according to my knowledge such issues are indeed being discussed at least in Europe between those that by the end of the day have the responsibility of deciding.
    We are surely responsible for what we do as photographers and what we sell as John writes (no danger for me because I rarely even try to sell my photos) but I think that many of the comments above go to the extreme when it comes to enforcement of such a law, which as I have mentioned probably will never pass. As is the case with other similar laws, and there are thousands of them in all our countries, it does not as such forbid things so no enforcement policy or bureaucracy, but it protects those that are victims. Such persons that consider themselves victims would have to convince a judge that they are victims because of the manipulation of a specific manipulated photos or, I would believe, for example to an editorial approach of a specific publication using manipulated photos without introducing the note. How such legal cases are treated by the legal systems in specific countries would however differ widely. How they would be treated in France I would not know before seeing concrete cases in court.
    Cloning out of a fence would surely demand a note under the photo according to the proposal as Patrick mention, but even without, I would find very unlikely that any judge would give a fine and support a complain from a "victim" of such manipulation.

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