54 replies
Right, is it illegal to use an istock image of a self portrait for a testimonial? I have seen loads of these and i was wondering if its legal or not.

thanks
#illegal
  • Profile picture of the author Steven Fullman
    Probably.

    But they hardly ever look like real customers anyway...which kinda blows the whole 'credibility' deal.

    Fact: Most people can spot a fake testimonial a mile off. Especially when endorsed by 'Winking, Thumbs Up Grinning Guy'...or whoever is flavour of the month at iStock these days.



    Cheers,
    Steve
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    • Profile picture of the author Sheryl Polomka
      Originally Posted by Steven Fullman View Post

      Probably.

      But they hardly ever look like real customers anyway...which kinda blows the whole 'credibility' deal.

      Fact: Most people can spot a fake testimonial a mile off. Especially when endorsed by 'Winking, Thumbs Up Grinning Guy'...or whoever is flavour of the month at iStock these days.



      Cheers,
      Steve
      Yeah there are some that look like 'real' people though, you would want to be careful and make sure you pick a photo that looks like a real person and not a model.
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      • Profile picture of the author Steven Fullman
        Originally Posted by Sheryl Polomka View Post

        Yeah there are some that look like 'real' people though, you would want to be careful and make sure you pick a photo that looks like a real person and not a model.
        Isn't that what Flickr's for...?

        Oh, shoot...you reckon that might be illegal...



        Sorry. Gotta go do some 'emergency maintenance' on my websites.



        Steve
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        • Profile picture of the author Darth Executor
          Originally Posted by Steven Fullman View Post

          Isn't that what Flickr's for...?

          Oh, shoot...you reckon that might be illegal...



          Sorry. Gotta go do some 'emergency maintenance' on my websites.



          Steve
          I got a hilarious mental image of someone surfing the web and finding his smiling mug endorsing some blackhatter's laxatives.
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  • Profile picture of the author Sheryl Polomka
    I don't think it would be illegal. If you purchase a photo from istock you can use it however you want for your own personal use.

    I have a portrait I purchased as my 'about me' picture on one of my sites, simply because it suited the niche buyers type of person more than a picture of myself would have.

    I don't see a problem with it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Matt Remuzzi
    Well, if it's a self portrait then I don't see why it would be a problem since presumably you would endorse your own product, right?

    A portrait of someone else is a different story. I doubt whether the question of legality is going to cause many problems but as Steven said stock photos tend to look like stock photos which is more of an issue with people giving it any weight.
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  • Profile picture of the author hangtimenino
    i dont think its illegal, but i dont think i would trust a guy, who is using a photo of someone else to represent them.
    you know what i mean.. why not use their own photos?
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    • Profile picture of the author digidoodles
      Originally Posted by hangtimenino View Post

      i dont think its illegal, but i dont think i would trust a guy, who is using a photo of someone else to represent them.
      you know what i mean.. why not use their own photos?
      Well, how would you know?
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    • Profile picture of the author D89
      :confused:
      Originally Posted by hangtimenino View Post

      i dont think its illegal, but i dont think i would trust a guy, who is using a photo of someone else to represent them.
      you know what i mean.. why not use their own photos?

      Eaactly!!!!

      Man this forum is filled with some nuts!!!

      and if more nuts jumped on the band wagon and agreed that this was ethical then this would be abceptable after all!!!???


      Good Grief Lucy!!!!


      Ah I am having fun tonight!
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  • Profile picture of the author Trixxie12
    Guys i think you misunderstood what i was saying I meant is it illegal to have an istock photo of someone else and write a little testimonial next to it on your sales page promoting your product?

    Thanks for the replies tho i appreciate it
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    • Profile picture of the author Steven Fullman
      Originally Posted by Trixxie12 View Post

      Guys i think you misunderstood what i was saying I meant is it illegal to have an istock photo of someone else and write a little testimonial next to it on your sales page promoting your product?

      Thanks for the replies tho i appreciate it
      Who's writing the testimonial?

      You?
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      • Profile picture of the author Trixxie12
        Originally Posted by Steven Fullman View Post

        Who's writing the testimonial?

        You?
        It would be, yes
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        • Profile picture of the author Steven Fullman
          Originally Posted by Trixxie12 View Post

          It would be, yes
          Well, I'm not a lawyer...

          Although if I were to channel this guy:

          Steven Fullman Lawyer Profile on Martindale.com

          ...who is clearly trying to steal my identity...and is a lawyer...

          I reckon it'd be at best, bad form, and at worst, misleading advertising.

          Give my nemesis a call. Tell him I sent you. That should make for a funny conversation!



          'The Real' Steve Fullman
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    • Profile picture of the author SullyUI
      I don't think it's illegal but its definitely deceptive, and you don't need to be deceptive to succeed in this business.
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  • Profile picture of the author Sheryl Polomka
    So it would be a fake testimonial then????

    Well, its not illegal to use a photo from istock on your site next to a testimonial. I don't even think its that bad to use a purchased photo as some people don't like using their own.

    But...... I don't think you should write testimonials for your own product. Its not illegal, but immoral maybe. That's the sort of thing that makes all testimonials lose credibility, because there are too many fake ones out there.

    If you're product is good, then have a wso on it and get some real testimonials.
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    • Profile picture of the author Trixxie12
      Originally Posted by Sheryl Polomka View Post

      So it would be a fake testimonial then????

      Well, its not illegal to use a photo from istock on your site next to a testimonial. I don't even think its that bad to use a purchased photo as some people don't like using their own.

      But...... I don't think you should write testimonials for your own product. Its not illegal, but immoral maybe. That's the sort of thing that makes all testimonials lose credibility, because there are too many fake ones out there.

      If you're product is good, then have a wso on it and get some real testimonials.
      Thank Sheryl great reply. I guess I'll take your advice and leave it
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  • Profile picture of the author rondo
    Testimonials are supposed to be genuine. A fake picture is not.

    So I imagine it could be considered misleading.

    Whether it's actually illegal or not will depend on the trade laws of your state/country.


    Andrew
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  • Profile picture of the author christftw
    I'm not sure if he was saying he wanted to do it, but that he was wondering about it because he knew some other people did.

    IMO Sheryl Polomka hit the nail on the head with the 'immoral' bit. You can get legit testimonials from WSOs, giving it away free to 5-10 people in an event in exchange for testimonials (I say event, because you're more likely to get people that will share if you give it away randomly/first come = first served), etc.

    Oh, and family. Unless you have a really straight-up no bs type of family, you could get some testimonials with a slight advantage this way... but imo on the ethical-train you should mix these in with less/unbiased reviews too.
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  • Profile picture of the author GuruGazette
    It is against most TOS and license agreements.

    From: iStockphoto License Agreement | iStockphoto.com under section 4:

    7. use or display any Content that features a model or person in a manner that (i) would lead a reasonable person to think that such person uses or personally endorses any business, product, service, cause, association or other endeavour; or (ii) 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;

    And I don't have a source reference at the moment but I'm almost positive it is illegal (aka against US law) to use fake testimonials. I believe the FTC/FCC or one of those "F" agencies will come down hard on you for it if caught.
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  • Profile picture of the author Troy_Phillips
    In july of this year the ftc is going to set stricter guidelines for testimonials . Some of the ppl I background jv with are going all to video testimonials for this reason .
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    • Profile picture of the author Hereandthere
      Originally Posted by Troy_Phillips View Post

      In july of this year the ftc is going to set stricter guidelines for testimonials.
      Interesting, any details?
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  • Profile picture of the author LB
    Typically to feature a person in a way that depicts their endorsement of a product you would want something called a "model release". istock standard licensing does not provide this as pointed out above.
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    • Profile picture of the author GuruGazette
      Originally Posted by LB View Post

      Typically to feature a person in a way that depicts their endorsement of a product you would want something called a "model release". istock standard licensing does not provide this as pointed out above.
      All non editorial people photos at istock or any other reputable stock photo agency and stock photographers have model releases on file. They have nothing to do with whether you can use the photo as an endorsement.
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  • Profile picture of the author mikemcmillan
    Almost all stock photo agencies have something in their TOS about not using one of their images to represent someone else--just like GuruGazette showed you. And, I'm not criticizing you--I'm trying to help, but writing your own testimonials--well, I just can't believe you are serious about that. I'd rethink that seriously before you went down that road.
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  • Profile picture of the author jacktackett
    IANAL, but pretty sure if you use a fake testimonial in the US the FTC and a state's attorney general can sue you. Not sure about the photo thing, but sure about using a fake testimonial. You may not get sent to jail, but I would think getting sued by the state or the Feds would not be fun.

    And as Troy wrote - the rules get even more tricky this summer. Fellow warrior Jack Duncan has a thread on this topic here:
    http://www.warriorforum.com/main-int...-solution.html

    Finally, even if its not illegal, as others have said if is very unethical and unfair to your potential customers....

    peace,
    --Jack
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  • Profile picture of the author GuruGazette
    Sorry I just realized my last comment might be more confusing than helpful.

    An editorial photo can have people in it and be used without a model release, BUT it can only LEGALLY be used for editorial or educational purposes (aka a breaking news story). It cannot be used for commercial purposes such as advertisements and sales pages.

    Despite this, many editorial publications require model releases these days just to be on the safe side and cover their legal butts.

    Any people photos you find at a reputable stock photo agency WILL have legal model releases on file. They will not accept, display or sell commercial stock photos which have people in them and no model releases because it could get their business in major legal trouble.

    They will NOT give you a copy of the release when you license the photos though, because that violates the model's privacy. Those documents are kept on file and brought out on court orders.

    Professional stock photographers also keep model releases on file for any photos of people which are being licensed for commercial uses. Some photographers may display non released photos as part of their portfolio but those will not be licensed to clients because they can get into huge legal trouble doing so without a model release (and so can the clients).

    Whether or not a picture of a person has a model release on file does not change the stock photo agency's or photographer's TOS though. If they do not allow the pictures to be used as "endorsements" then it has nothing to do with whether there is a model release or not.
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    • Profile picture of the author LB
      Originally Posted by GuruGazette View Post

      Sorry I just realized my last comment might be more confusing than helpful.

      An editorial photo can have people in it and be used without a model release, BUT it can only LEGALLY be used for editorial or educational purposes (aka a breaking news story). It cannot be used for commercial purposes such as advertisements and sales pages.

      Despite this, many editorial publications require model releases these days just to be on the safe side and cover their legal butts.

      Any people photos you find at a reputable stock photo agency WILL have legal model releases on file. They will not accept, display or sell commercial stock photos which have people in them and no model releases because it could get their business in major legal trouble.

      They will NOT give you a copy of the release when you license the photos though, because that violates the model's privacy. Those documents are kept on file and brought out on court orders.

      Professional stock photographers also keep model releases on file for any photos of people which are being licensed for commercial uses. Some photographers may display non released photos as part of their portfolio but those will not be licensed to clients because they can get into huge legal trouble doing so without a model release (and so can the clients).

      Whether or not a picture of a person has a model release on file does not change the stock photo agency's or photographer's TOS though. If they do not allow the pictures to be used as "endorsements" then it has nothing to do with whether there is a model release or not.
      You are correct. I stand corrected...the model release is an issue for photos of people but the ones from istock should already have this in place. The use for endorsements etc. is a separate issue.
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  • Profile picture of the author D3javu
    It's not illegal but you should contact istock just to make sure sometimes you can't use all images for testimonials but there is a very slight chance that someone will actually know that you grabbed the image form istock
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  • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
    Banned
    Here's an idea ... instead of ruining your credibility and doing the same old fake testimonial BS that most people do, why don't you give away a few samples and get real testimonials? Just a thought.
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  • Profile picture of the author Yuki
    Here, I have a great solution. Ask somebody to write testimonial and provide you their pictures.
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    • Profile picture of the author dave830
      Case in point.

      You know those Video Professor infomercials? There's some lady giving a testimonial on there, about how her 4 year old daughter is more computer literate than her, for some reason her face stuck in my head.

      Well, I flip the channel later, and there's a different infomercial about starting a home business, and that SAME lady is going on about how she made $5k in the first month.

      Same lady. Coincidence? No way. Probably an actor who would say whatever is on the script. FRAUD!

      I not only would never purchase from them, my lip curls into a disgusted snarl whenever I see either commercial. So will your customers if you go down that road.

      DO THE RIGHT THING.

      Make a little less money and have a clean conscience.
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      • Profile picture of the author Darth Executor
        Originally Posted by dave830 View Post

        Case in point.

        You know those Video Professor infomercials? There's some lady giving a testimonial on there, about how her 4 year old daughter is more computer literate than her, for some reason her face stuck in my head.

        Well, I flip the channel later, and there's a different infomercial about starting a home business, and that SAME lady is going on about how she made $5k in the first month.

        Same lady. Coincidence? No way. Probably an actor who would say whatever is on the script. FRAUD!
        You must be the only person in the world who thinks infomercial testimonials are real. I mean, some of them use famous actors! Personally, I treat all testimonials are fake, on and off line. I don't really care if some person I don't even know likes a product. Only thing I trust is a full money back guarantee.
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        • Profile picture of the author dave830
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          • Profile picture of the author Steven Fullman
            Originally Posted by dave830 View Post

            I didn't say I thought they were all real.

            I just said it bothers me (as a consumer!) and I ain't buying from them.
            Yeah...but let's face it...those 'real' people aren't as jaded as us.

            See...testimonials can be deal-clinchers.

            Steve
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        • Profile picture of the author dave830
          Originally Posted by Darth Executor View Post

          You must be the only person in the world who thinks infomercial testimonials are real.
          I didn't say I believed they're real.

          I said it bothers me when people intentionally mislead for a buck.

          There was a Dateline show where they created a multimillion dollar infomercial, selling a wrinkle preventing cream made of... Nestle Quick. And they wanted to see if an unsuspecting doctor would endorse it.

          Apparently everyone's got their price. For $5000, Dr. Margaret Olson, said, and I quote:

          "So in this situation Moisturol would be really very helpful for people. Moisturol is one of the new products out that is going to help get rid of lines and wrinkles from the inside out. The idea being is if you can make happier, healthier cells that make better collagen and this is a very innovative way to do it and very practical."

          Dr. Olsen, board certified, and at the time Chief Of Dermatology at Saint John's Hospital in Santa Monica, was clearly endorsing Moisturol.

          Dr. Olson (in the infomercial): "I think Moisturol is useful because it's going to be an efficient way to get what you need, that you may not get if you're not very good to yourself and you're trying to undo the damage of the past."

          Of course when they reveled this to her, on camera, she stammered and had nothing to say.
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          • Profile picture of the author Steven Fullman
            Originally Posted by dave830 View Post

            I didn't say I believed they're real.

            I said it bothers me when people intentionally mislead for a buck.
            Perfect. Thanks, Dave.

            Spot on.
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        • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
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          Originally Posted by Darth Executor View Post

          Only thing I trust is a full money back guarantee.
          If you trust that, just buy one of those FREE TRIALS and try getting a refund after being charged for monthly bills that you didn't realize you would be charged, due to even more deceptive advertising. They make it nearly impossible to get a refund.

          Online, I just bought a piece of software that sounded great ... only problem is ... it doesn't work. So I requested a refund. No response. Filed a Paypal dispute ... no response. That's $100 shot.

          I don't trust the fake testimonials or the 100% guarantee of refunds, but I will not do business with a company whose product is so weak that they resort to fake testimonials to sell it.
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          • Profile picture of the author Darth Executor
            Originally Posted by sbucciarel View Post

            If you trust that, just buy one of those FREE TRIALS and try getting a refund after being charged for monthly bills that you didn't realize you would be charged, due to even more deceptive advertising. They make it nearly impossible to get a refund.
            I'm not sure what you're talking about. They can't charge you if you don't give them your information, and at least for paypal you can cancel a subscription before they charge anything.

            Online, I just bought a piece of software that sounded great ... only problem is ... it doesn't work. So I requested a refund. No response. Filed a Paypal dispute ... no response. That's $100 shot.
            Probably a scam. Though I'm not sure why paypal wouldn't respond at all.

            I don't trust the fake testimonials or the 100% guarantee of refunds, but I will not do business with a company whose product is so weak that they resort to fake testimonials to sell it.
            If they put in even a little effort it's impossible to tell if a testimonial is fake. But, if they promise a full money back guarantee you can take steps you couldn't otherwise (like getting them in trouble legally and getting them shut down). If the testimonies are fake and the product ends up sucking, what can you do?
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  • Profile picture of the author jcoolbaugh
    Rules on using fake endorsements (testimonials):

    USA - http://www.ftc.gov/os/2008/11/P03452...mentguides.pdf (scroll to page five)

    EU - EUR-Lex - 32005L0029 - EN (scroll down to Annex 1)

    UK - http://www.oft.gov.uk/shared_oft/bus...gs/oft1008.pdf (scroll to page 25)

    Regardless of whether the use of the photo is illegal or not, the use of fake testimonials is according to the FTC, the OFT and the EC. Probably best to simply go get yourself some real endorsements, and save yourself the headache.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dally137
    No it's not illegal. But not so good also.
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    • Profile picture of the author kmjbrown
      All photos have an inherent copyright, but some are put up for public use (ie. public domain), others can be purchased with either limited, or full use rights. It is unlikely that any one would come after someone who has used a photo without written consent, however go business practice would include trying to at least acquire permission for the owner of any photo prior to its use on the internet. The very least try to give credit to the site from which the photo came from.
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  • Profile picture of the author Leonard Holmes
    The FTC has internet marketing in their crosshairs. I agree with other posters that this is pretty clearly illegal in the U.S. Frank Kern had some trouble with the FTC a few years back over something similar (false claims for products, I think - I'm sure there are people here much more intimately familiar with what he went through).
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  • Profile picture of the author Zeus66
    Any testimonial that doesn't include a legit way to contact the testimonial giver should be considered worthless. I mean, c'mon people. I say if you buy a product because of testimonials that are just signed -John S., Topeka ... you DESERVE to be scammed. Sorry, but that's my honest reaction. Ignore testimonials unless you can contact the people who gave them.
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    • Profile picture of the author AffiliateMax
      Are you seriously asking if it's okay to have a stock photo of someone next to a testimonial for your product and you wrote the testimonial?! Of course it's illegal to have a completely fake testimonial next to a fake photo. Let alone the ethical / moral issues. If your product is so crap that the only way you can get a good testimonial for it is to write it yourself then you need to seriously reconsider your product!

      Don't take my word for it - here's a lawyers view on these "deceptive and fraudulent" practices: Christian Internet Marketing: Selling Greed Using Jesus : Internet Law and Business Blog
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  • Profile picture of the author Alfred Shelver
    Geez IM is really out to market itself as unethicall money grabbers ( not everyone) but with people looking at posts like this if you spend the time and money to get real testimonials they are just going to browsed over as fake. Humans are sometimes there own worst enemies.
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  • Profile picture of the author James Schramko
    How could the OP post something so ludicrous?

    What are you thinking?

    Why not just post "How To Scam"

    Testimonials should be genuine. If you don't have any
    make a useful product instead of ripping people off...
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  • Profile picture of the author Sheryl Polomka
    Oh wow, I can't believe those weight loss pictures, that is terrible.

    There is just too many lies on the internet these days and so many poor people that believe them.
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    • Profile picture of the author webwyn
      Why are we even having this discussion?

      Fake testimonial from fake person with fake picture = misleading on steroids. Misleading has got to be illegal in most target markets.

      Ask yourself if you'd feel OK buying such a product.
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  • Profile picture of the author dmarze
    I think it is not illegal. It is moral question.
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