Using Other Peoples Photos - Is it Okay? Or Not Good?

21 replies
Okay, let me clarify.

I am talking about the photo images of people that I buy on sites like istockphoto.com etc.

I use them all the time and use images in my website or headers etc and I know that is fine because that is what they are there for.

However....

I know a lot of people create blogs and use fake names (just as I do because I don't want my name all over the place in different niches.), but many people go one step further and use photos of peoples faces from these sites and link it to that name.

for example, I create a name "Joe Blogs" for my fitness site, I then go and get a photo of a young, athletic looking guy from istockphoto and put his image next to the name "Joe Blogs" in the about me section etc so that it appears that this guy is Joe blogs.

I have mixed feelings about going this extra step and I just wanted to get any input and best practices from others.

I don't know if these people that allow you to use their images on your website intended for their face to be put next to a fake name. My theory is they just think you are going to use it in headers or else where on your site, but not with their face with another name beside it.

Any thoughts? I know this is what courses like Gsniper teach and others and I know I am probably losing sales because I don't have an appropriate face to go with the name because I do think it can make a big difference.

But it just makes me a bit uncomfortable.

Any thoughts?
#good #peoples #photos
  • Profile picture of the author Kat Bartone
    JoeCool,

    You really have two questions here.

    The first one is whether or not using the photo adjacent to text in a 'leading' way is allowed by the usage terms of your license agreement. To answer this question, go to istockphoto, read both their general terms, and the terms for that specific photo (and the particular license you purchased).

    The license terms may or may not address this issue, I don't know. But you have a way to find out.

    The second question - assuming the license terms do not prohibit that kind of usage - is whether or not it's ethical to use it in the way you've described. Because most people, I think, will assume that the picture you use is indeed a photo of the named person, the practice is deceptive, and that's what's making you uncomfortable.

    Let your conscience be your guide. If you're uncomfortable with it, there's your answer. You already know what feels right to you.

    As an alternative to a photo, maybe a cartoon caricature - a kind of site 'mascot' - would work better for you, as one idea.

    - Kat
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    • Profile picture of the author joecool1972
      Hi Kat,

      Thanks for the advice. I will take a closer look at istock's terms - don't know what I didn't think of that...

      I know what you are saying about letting my conscience decide but I still think that it helps if I get some advice from others who may be have had the same thoughts because may be they have come up with a way of doing things or justifying things in their own mind that would rest easy with me as well.

      In regards to a caricature, I think that can work sometimes and I will test it on one of my sites; however, I think for some of my niches it will work a lot better and convert a lot better with real people.
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    • Profile picture of the author Floyd Fisher
      Originally Posted by Kat Bartone View Post

      JoeCool,

      You really have two questions here.

      The first one is whether or not using the photo adjacent to text in a 'leading' way is allowed by the usage terms of your license agreement. To answer this question, go to istockphoto, read both their general terms, and the terms for that specific photo (and the particular license you purchased).

      The license terms may or may not address this issue, I don't know. But you have a way to find out.

      The second question - assuming the license terms do not prohibit that kind of usage - is whether or not it's ethical to use it in the way you've described. Because most people, I think, will assume that the picture you use is indeed a photo of the named person, the practice is deceptive, and that's what's making you uncomfortable.

      Let your conscience be your guide. If you're uncomfortable with it, there's your answer. You already know what feels right to you.

      As an alternative to a photo, maybe a cartoon caricature - a kind of site 'mascot' - would work better for you, as one idea.

      - Kat
      So I guess you would be screaming 'scam' at this too?

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    • Profile picture of the author Nonny
      Originally Posted by Kat Bartone View Post

      The first one is whether or not using the photo adjacent to text in a 'leading' way is allowed by the usage terms of your license agreement. To answer this question, go to istockphoto, read both their general terms, and the terms for that specific photo (and the particular license you purchased).

      The license terms may or may not address this issue, I don't know. But you have a way to find out.
      According to the iStockPhoto license terms you aren't allowed to use an image of a person that makes it appear that person is endorsing a particular product or business. I believe that using that person's image to represent the owner of a business would thus be prohibited, but I could be wrong.

      iStockphoto License Agreement | iStockphoto.com
      (a) Prohibited Uses. You may not do anything with the Content that is not expressly permitted in the preceding section or permitted by an Extended License. For greater certainty, the following are "Prohibited Uses" and you may not:
      [snip]
      7. use or display any Content that features a model or person in a manner (a) that would lead a reasonable person to think that such person uses or personally endorses any business, product, service, cause, association or other endeavour; or (b) except where accompanied by a statement that indicates that the Content is being used for illustrative purposes only and any person depicted in the Content is a model, that depicts such person in a potentially sensitive subject matter, including, but not limited to mental and physical health issues, social issues, sexual or implied sexual activity or preferences, substance abuse, crime, physical or mental abuse or ailments, or any other subject matter that would be reasonably likely to be offensive or unflattering to any person reflected in the Content, unless the Content itself clearly and undisputedly reflects the model or person in such potentially sensitive subject matter in which case the Content may be used or displayed in a manner that portrays the model or person in the same context and to the same degree depicted in the Content itself;
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  • Profile picture of the author Kat Bartone
    JoeCool,

    The WF is a microcosm of the world at large. You will find people here who would say to you that if it helps your conversion, do it.

    It sounds like you already have the gut feeling that it's deceptive, so why would you want to find a way to 'justify it in (your) own mind'?

    You're torn between what you suspect is deceptive and the temptation of greater conversions. This choice gives you the chance to define yourself.

    If choosing to be honest and truthful for its own sake isn't enough for you, pay attention to what Nathan said in the previous post. Why risk your reputation? What effect do you think that will have on your conversions?

    Best,
    - Kat
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  • Profile picture of the author jazbo
    There are entire sites and forums dedicated to "outing" fake profiles and the people behind them, do it at your peril.
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    • Profile picture of the author joecool1972
      Hi everyone thanks for the replys.

      I thought this topic would provoke a little emotion.

      What is interesting is that some of the best selling products in IM that get rave reviews advocate this and nobody seems to bat an eyelid.

      Kat - I wouldn't go as far as to say this choice "defines" me, I already have a pretty good idea of who I am and my own ethics but I was open minded to see what others thought. Sometimes I look at things to deeply and I shouldn't worry. I thought this might be one of those times. However, I totaly understand what you mean and I understand where you are coming from.

      Jazbo - I wasn't talking about faking a whole story about losing weight etc (which again is a thing advocated by many top IM products). I was just thinking about putting a picture next to a name.

      However, I think my initial feels were probably right and my ethics won't even allow me to do that. The truth is I do think it is deceptive no matter how I try to sugar coat it in my head and justify it, and think it is clever marketing, it just doesn't sit easy with me.

      I would have been interested to here the other side of the story though, from anyone who doesn't see a problem in this. There must be lots of people out there since thousands of IM products are sold that teach this sort of thing.

      Anyway, thanks again for the input, great to see that others are focused on trying to run their IM business the right way, I thought maybe I was the only one and a fool for doing it.
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  • Profile picture of the author .X.
    Does the burger served at McDonald's
    match the burger advertised?

    Is the pasteurized milk you buy
    actually, chemically still milk?

    Do movie stars ever play characters
    that aren't really them?

    Do the flashy graphics and big
    dollar copy actually make a crap
    product not a crap product?

    Is the Rich Jerk really a cartoon
    character?

    Does Tony the Tiger REALLY
    eat Frosted Flakes?

    Or the two guys on the subway
    train, the successful one reading
    the Wall Street journal and the
    unsuccessful one not.

    Or the super hot chick in Second
    Life?

    I could go on and on.

    As a marketer I think you put
    yourself in a bad place anytime
    you don't feel 100% GREAT
    about whatever you're doing.

    But let's really boil this all
    down - almost ALL selling that
    occurs is based upon deception.

    Otherwise, is selling even
    necessary?

    How much of what any of us
    sell is based in REAL need?

    99% of it is based in emotional
    self-deception.

    Yes, reader, I'm talking about
    you and if you want to challenge
    that theory I guarantee I can
    prove it. Just post what you
    promote and I will explain, clearly,
    why the only reason anyone buys
    it is based 100% in some form of
    deception.

    I think there's a difference between
    creating characters to sell products
    and creating outright lies to sell
    products, yes. But what you're
    asking isn't inherently unethical -
    it could be but it doesn't need to
    be.

    X

    PS - All that aside, I really like
    Kat's answer but feel compelled
    to provide an alternate to
    the tainted puritanical view that
    has dominated the thread to
    this point.

    Plus, without a counterpoint this
    potentially interesting conversation
    will die.
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  • Profile picture of the author talfighel
    This is really new to me because I use my full name and photo online and have never thought about people actually using a bogus name or a bogus picture just for the sake of not letting anyone see their faces or know who they are.

    That is just bad business.

    Tal
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  • Profile picture of the author Victoria Neely
    Eh. I *might* do it with a silly twist. Maybe find a picture of someone who is ridiculously good-looking (you know, rippling biceps or something) and dressed in a spandex super hero outfit. Then put up a disclaimer saying this is how I look in my mind... or how I'm doing you a favor because you'd scream in horror if you saw my real picture.

    Which would probably defeat the point of using a fake picture to begin with.
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  • Profile picture of the author Sean Ski
    As long as you're using it in an ethical manner like a pen name and not to say hey look at all this weight I lost then I think its fine... If you're using them to deceive people then its wrong, but if you're just doing it so that the readers can put a face to what they're reading then its fine in my opinion...
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    • Profile picture of the author ozduc
      Using the photo with your name in the same vicinity is one thing but actually saying hi my name is "Joe Blogs" and yes that is a really a picture of me, well that could get you in to trouble as being false advertising.
      The name Michael Vincent springs to mind here.
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      • Profile picture of the author Kat Bartone
        So I guess you would be screaming 'scam' at this too?
        I neither 'screamed' nor have I used the word 'scam'.

        With that kind of misinterpretation of my words, I'm not surprised that you can't discern the difference between your example and this one.


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  • Profile picture of the author Goatboy
    One thing I have noticed is people using pictures of celebrities. I see this type of avatar in forums being used by both marketers and non-marketers.

    There was a similar discussion here a week or so ago where we tried to settle the question based upon trust. Many members said they trusted people online more when they could see a picture.

    I guess my take is this: if it is okay to operate under a forum name, then it must be okay to have an avatar that is clearly of a celebrity or cartoon character.

    Large corporations often used photos of people who aren't associated with the company except by being hired as spokespeople. Some of the older members here may remember the Bartles and James commericals from several decades ago. Each commercial prominently featured the company founders Bartles and James who at the end of each commercial would extol viewers with "Thanks for your support." The commercials were popular and drove sales through the roof, and you guessed it, those weren't Bartles and James. There really was no Bartles or James, they were both just actors paid and contracted to represent the company.
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  • Profile picture of the author alistair
    Im only a newbie but since looking at IM i'm pretty much convinced the majority of people trying to sell could be accused of false advertising in the real world. I've looked at a few guides etc and they all seem to say about how you should try to convince people to buy a product by saying how well this particular product has worked for your weight loss or muscle gain or acne condition or whatever problem you have it is that you have supposedly had solved. I have actually thought, do these products actually work or are the only people who give them the glowing reviews the people doing pretty much anything to get a sale. Im not judging anyone, i was just naive and i have had my eyes opened. I suppose being completely honest and please slap me down if i'm wrong but it seems to me that being an affiliate it doesnt matter too much how much you lie to make a sale as long as you get one
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    • Profile picture of the author mrdomains
      I agree on most parts with .X who favored us with some poetic truth.

      Still, it´s a difficult thing to decide on. I have used... generic images. Bought and paid for, but never direct portraits, more like action pics to suit action niches. If I have a windsurfing site I might feel the need to use a windsurfing pic - yeah it´s a man but it isn't me but it's not really important. The surfboard is though and I can't surf... Mostly though, I find that these kind of profile images are vastly overrated.. except here at WF of course :p

      If you post a face pic and imply this is me you are probably breaking more than moral rules and certainly put yourself up to the risk of being hung out if someone feels they must.

      If you post a trainer pic with sixpack and bulging biceps, might it seem strange that you only promote other people´s cb products instead of your own which anyone with that body sureley must have written.

      Alter ego pics can do more damage than good. Why not use your own pic. If you don´t think it does the job... PhOTosHoP iT!
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  • Profile picture of the author forumer147
    I use other images but I tried to source the photos if not possible I try to say it in the articles where I have gotten those photos
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  • Profile picture of the author .X.
    What?!

    I just learned that it isn't really
    Aunt Jemima blogging about her
    syrup and pancake mix!

    Apparently she *never* existed.

    This after I just read that Robert
    Kiyosaki (just to name one) has
    a ghost writer write his blog and
    Twitter posts. Unbelievable!

    Back to Aunt Jemima -

    1889 - Chris Rutt and Charles Underwood of the Pearl Milling Company developed Aunt Jemima, the first ready mix.

    1890 - R.T. Davis purchased the struggling Aunt Jemima Manufacturing Company. He then brought the Aunt Jemima character to life when he hired Nancy Green as his spokeswoman.

    1914 - The image of Aunt Jemima was so popular that the company was renamed the Aunt Jemima Mills Company.

    Get the WHOLE truth here -

    Aunt Jemima—Our History
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  • Profile picture of the author decyou2012
    It depends on how you use the photos. But lets be realistic here. You should always ask the owner before using it if it is for commercial use. The last thing you want is to face a law suit because you will unless you get special permission.
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