DoD Memorandum on Digital Manipulation
Or, the US Army to the rescue!
We have written to ask permission to reproduce it, though in general, US government publications are considered public domain.
This text has so far been shown to about a dozen working news photographers and photojournalists. All have said that it gives a reasonable definition of the practices which they do and do not regard as photomanipulation of the kind which would require marking.
This is a great relief, because some were suspecting that we'd have to hire philosophers to work out what did and did not constitute manipulation.
The US Department of Defense believes it needs to take a position on digital manipulation of photographs because:
Computer digital technology makes removing or adding elements to photographs or video images fairly simple-and usually undetectable. To guard against the potentially dangerous effects such manipulation can have on military leaders who use digital images to make decisions and to ensure the credibility of Department of Defense (DOD)-produced images, former Deputy Secretary of Defense John Deutch issued a memorandum, dated 9 December 1994, to establish DOD guidelines regarding digital manipulation of official DOD photographic and video images. These include any images recorded or produced by persons acting on behalf of DOD activities, functions or missions.
The memorandum states that alteration of official DOD imagery is generally prohibited. The following photographic techniques are allowed:
The only major change which I would propose is in the final bullet point, which I propose rewriting for the purposes of news photography to read:
Why must the mark be within the image area?
Because whatever guidelines we finally come up with must work not only for newspapers, magazines and television, but also for new electronic media -- for example the Web. Before long, automatic rights-clearance schemes will make it possible to link a copyright graphic without the accompanying text, caption or credit. The "I am manipulated" mark must therefore be part of the image, not of the text -- even if this does break designers' hearts.
Last modified: 09 Nov 1997
Send design comments to: