Using a Pen Name AND a stock photo? Is it legal?

by Dayne Dylan 19 replies
Hi Warriors,

I'm starting a new info product and I'm also going to use a whole new pen name. I was wondering, in most cases on websites adding a picture of yourself as an author gives it some credibility.

But what about the situation where you use a pen name?

Can you use a stock photo or is this not legal?

Just curious...

Dayne
#main internet marketing discussion forum #legal #pen #photo #stock
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  • Profile picture of the author Fender85
    From what I hear (ie, heard this one time lol), it's illegal to use models as "spokespersons" without their consent. So while it would be perfectly fine to use their stock photo on your website, it would cross the line to use them as the author, or as a testimonial, etc. But again, if you can get in contact with them and ask for consent, then you should be ok.
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  • Profile picture of the author Asher
    Try istockphoto.com

    Stephen King used someone else's picture when he used
    a pen name - and he had sold in hard copies.

    You won't be the first, and neither will you be the last =D

    Asher
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  • Profile picture of the author Steven Wagenheim
    Originally Posted by Dayne Dylan View Post

    Hi Warriors,

    I'm starting a new info product and I'm also going to use a whole new pen name. I was wondering, in most cases on websites adding a picture of yourself as an author gives it some credibility.

    But what about the situation where you use a pen name?

    Can you use a stock photo or is this not legal?

    Just curious...

    Dayne
    I am not a lawyer so I don't know the legalities of it, but as a consumer,
    I don't mind a pen name, but please don't put up a photo of somebody it
    it's not you. To me that's just not right. It's my personal opinion and I am
    sure there will be some who agree and some who don't.

    But as far as legalities, you'll have to ask a lawyer as I doubt anybody
    here can give you a definitive answer unless they ARE a lawyer who
    specializes in this thing.
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    • Profile picture of the author SirHandsome
      Originally Posted by Steven Wagenheim View Post

      I am not a lawyer so I don't know the legalities of it, but as a consumer,
      I don't mind a pen name, but please don't put up a photo of somebody it
      it's not you. To me that's just not right. It's my personal opinion and I am
      sure there will be some who agree and some who don't.
      What if someone put up their own photo but their product, content, etc was ghostwritten... do you see a problem with that?

      Because it seems to me that putting up a false photo and pen name with your content is pretty much just the first cousin of putting up a real photo with words that actually came from a different face

      Personally, I see nothing wrong with either, but am also interested in hearing more about the legality factor
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      • Profile picture of the author Scott Burton
        Originally Posted by SirHandsome View Post

        What if someone put up their own photo but their product, content, etc was ghostwritten... do you see a problem with that?

        Because it seems to me that putting up a false photo and pen name with your content is pretty much just the first cousin of putting up a real photo with words that actually came from a different face

        Personally, I see nothing wrong with either, but am also interested in hearing more about the legality factor
        I don't see them as the same, or even closely related.

        In the ghostwritten scenario, the ghostwriter is explicitly writing content to be credited to someone else. If the photo is of the person who is credited with the work, then whether they wrote it, or hired it out, they are the owner of the product and have full claim to it.

        Using a fake picture (stock photo, etc) without the explicit consent of the person who took the picture (copyright holder) and the person in the picture (model) is not the same.

        Because I hired five writers to produce me books to be credited under my name, I have the right to put my picture with the products, because I am accepting credit for the product as a whole.

        For me to put someone else's picture up as responsible for my product when they have no claim to the product is asking for trouble. It SEEMS to me as a prospective customer like you might be unwilling to accept responsibility for your product, hence why you're hiding behind someone else's picture.
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  • Profile picture of the author tommygadget
    You are really skating on thin ice by using a stock photo with a pen name.

    TomG.
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  • Profile picture of the author getsmartt
    Actually read istockphoto's terms, you cannot use a picture of a person from there to "endorse" a product.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dayne Dylan
    Well, to be honest, I didn't think one could do this and I'm not going to. But I did want to make sure.

    I will just stick with the pen name only.

    Thanks!
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    Create and Differentiate. Illuminate Your Buyers Need or Wants. Grow Rich.
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  • Profile picture of the author write-stuff
    I personally find it no more unethical than having paid actors on TV telling me how much they love a product that they've never actually used in real life.
    - Russ
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    • Profile picture of the author getsmartt
      Originally Posted by write-stuff View Post

      I personally find it no more unethical than having paid actors on TV telling me how much they love a product that they've never actually used in real life.
      - Russ
      The difference is that they are paid (handsomely) to endorse that product. Using a stock photo of someone who does not even know what your product is to endorse your product is shameful at best
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  • Profile picture of the author Floyd Bogart
    You might consider using a graphic, or an avatar of some sort. It may not be as good as a pic, but you can use it to create some consistency and branding value.

    It has worked that way for me anyway.
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  • Profile picture of the author Chuck Evans
    What I have here is the greatest thing since sliced bread! All you need is some paper to get started.

    BELIEVE me when I say, this product will make you millions! Don't believe me? Here's a picture of me getting the paper ready to make my millions.

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    • Profile picture of the author Jill Carpenter
      I just had a huge issue with this from the affiliate perspective.

      I'm promoting a product, and someone unsubscribed from my list because they found the picture of the product creator on another site and it is quite obvious it is a stock photo.

      I had an ethical question for myself of whether I should continue to endorse the product.

      I think it will turn out bad for you when affiliates find out and when customers find out. If your product is credible then it is not worth it.

      If you don't like the way you look, then don't use a photo.

      If you are not selling some kind of beauty product then I don't think people will care so much about what you look like.
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      • Profile picture of the author Ram
        We use a lot of pen names/characters in our business.

        Need a photo? Just advertise in the paper (or even better, a college paper, if one is nearby) for models. Or use word of mouth. If you have a college nearby, you can even tack up flyers on bulletin boards.

        Pay them $25 or $50 (yep, that cheap), take some shots (not just headshots, but speaking at a podium, walking outside, whatever suits your product), have them sign a release and you have your own stock photos.

        Ram
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        • Profile picture of the author Ricter
          There is a software product out that can make realistic overall changes to a facial image, essentially morphing selected feature sets, so that you end up with a photo of someone who could pass for a sibling of the original, but who does not actually exist.

          You'll have to google that, I only just got introduced to the software.
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  • Profile picture of the author IMChick
    The romance novel industry does this quite a bit, both with the same photo for different pen names (in those cases, it is a real photo of the author), and by using licensed photos of models.

    I would stay away from the stock photo. Many issues, including the ones discussed above, come up with those uses.
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    • Profile picture of the author Jenni Mac
      I've been wondering about the same thing and I think I'm going to go with asking a couple of friends of mine to be the faces of my site. I'll show them the site and explain everything in detail and see if they agree.

      I personally couldn't go for just pulling someone's picture off Istock or any other site for that matter, because of the implications already outlined.

      I can't front my site myself because I'm active in other niches and it just doesn't feel right - chances are there would never be a crossover and the niches wouldn't collide, but you just never know!
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      • Profile picture of the author Ricter
        If you use the new facial morphing software, you wouldn't have to ask anyone's permission to post the resulting photo, since it's not actually anyone's face.
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  • Profile picture of the author oortcloud
    There are many facets to this issue and it looks like we are comingling them. There are some implications between you and the persons photo and there is some issues between you and what you are saying to the public.

    I do know that there is also the aspect of using it for intent of fraud.

    One of the top IMer just got busted and sentenced for using a pen name and stock photo, but it seems it was an issue of impersonating a med professional. So the intent is an important aspect. Just like in real life, you
    can legall use a different name, as long as it isnt for the purpose of defrauding someone.
    So just using a pen name like david deangelo or Madonna who are using a pen name for sake of using a pen name.
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