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Photoshop law requires retouching disclosure

  • Published on January 7, 2016
Photoshop law requires retouching disclosure

Over the holidays while many people were concerned about over-eating, the French national assembly passed legislation that is being called the Photoshop law. The law requires all Photoshop retouching that is performed on models be clearly labeled. The Photoshop law is included with other legislation designed to safeguard the health of models used in fashion shows, commercials, advertisements, and photography. Photoshop is being regulated by requiring a disclosure when publishing an altered image that has been modified in such a way that it “makes the silhouette narrower or wider” of a model.

This is the first known legislation in Europe in which using Photoshop is illegal if it isn't fully disclosed. Violations of the Photoshop law are punishable by 6 months in prison along with a fine of 75,000 Euros. Israel also recently enacted a Photoshop law which requires disclosure of image manipulation of models, and also specifies a body mass index (BMI) for those working in the modeling profession.

The push to regulate Photoshop comes after many widely publicize incidents of models and celebrities being made to appear thinner through retouching. While excessive Photoshop retouching originally was criticized by advocates for maintaining a healthy body image, especially among young women, the cause has expanded to a much wider group. Some celebrities have criticized advertisers and publishers for the excessive use of Photoshop on their own images. Despite a movement towards more natural looking images, there remain almost weekly occurrences of celebrities sharing images that involve excessive use of Photoshop, generally used in an attempt to thin their appearance. Ironically at the same time one government is passing laws regulating the use of Photoshop, another government across the world was posting official images that were clearly manipulated.

This new Photoshop law is part of a more comprehensive set of legislation that seeks to also make certain that models are of good health. The original legislation also included a specific body mass index 9BMI) requirement, but this was replaced with a requirement that a physician certify that models are in good health.

One aspect of learning Photoshop is understanding when retouching is useful and acceptable. A Photoshop professional will work to improve images tone, contrast, lighting, an emphasis. Yet care should be placed into using Photoshop in a way that limits changes to the intent and appearance of an individual in any way that causes them to appear unnaturally thin. This Photoshop law attempts to address this by forcing retouching artists to label any work that changes the silhouette of a model.


Photoshop law requires retouching disclosure

About the author

 is a user experience designer, Photoshop expert, educator and author based in Boston. She is the author of more than 20 books on design tools and processes, including Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies, Adobe Creative Cloud Digital Classroom, and Photoshop Digital Classroom. She has been awarded a Microsoft MVP three times for her work with user experience design in creating apps for touch, desktop, and mobile devices.

Jennifer delivers UX training and UX consulting for large Fortune 100 companies, small start-ups, and independent software vendors. She has been hired by Adobe and Microsoft to deliver training workshops to their staff, and has traveled to Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East, and across the U.S. to deliver courses and assist on UX design projects. She has extensive knowledge of modern Windows UX Design, having worked closely with the Windows team to create educational material and deliver UX workshops to key partners globally on behalf of Microsoft. Jennifer works with a wide range of prototyping tools including Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator, Blend for Visual Studio, XD, and Balsamiq. She also works extensively in the fields of presentation design and visual design.