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New French Law Requires Photoshopped Model Photos Disclosures

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Today, a new French law takes effect. It requires any commercial photo of a model whose bodily appearance has been digitally altered to be labeled “photographie retouchée,” or retouched photograph. The penalty for failure to comply is €37,500. Previously, France implemented a law requiring models’ employers to obtain health certification that the models have a healthy BMI. In response to the French law, one of the world’s biggest photo sites, U.S.-based Getty Images iStock , has banned (also effective today) any content “depicting models whose body shapes have been retouched to make them look thinner or larger.”

All of that is meant to protect the health of models and to prevent people from unhealthy aspirations towards unrealistic beauty standards. California has introduced a similar bill last year.

The retouching law of France covers only advertising, not editorial work in magazines. The latter is much more desirable than commercial engagements as models are most frequently discovered in magazines before being recruited by brands for marketing purposes. So, the French law by itself does not directly achieve its objectives. However, it has sent ripples through the modeling industry which is now under pressure to follow the trend towards more realistic depictions of models’ shapes.

The reason I occasionally write posts about photography on my legal blog is because, before I became a boring lawyer, I was a photographer. I have self-published model photo books and I represent photographers.

In photos above: French model Marie (body shape not retouched)

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