the legal resource for fitness entrepreneurs
the legal resource for fitness entrepreneurs

Use of images on fitness blogs

The general best practices for use of images on fitness blogs reflect those than anybody publishing on the web would do well to consider. However, there are a number of particular considerations that arise for fitness professionals when using images on their blogs.

Copyright. Ensure that you own the copyright over the images (or you have a written explicit license enabling you to utilise the images on your website for testimonial purposes). Physically take all photos yourself or ensure that you have copyright over the images through a licensing agreement – if you engage a photographer to take images for you, be aware that you will likely need to pay an additional licensing fee to use the images in a commercial manner, and that just because you have received copies of images does not entitle you to use the images in any manner you choose. Be aware that even if you took the images, you still need permission to share images that infer an endorsement of a service, product, or business – it is important to have such granting of permission in writing. An attorney can help you develop such an agreement for your business.

Before and After Images. As mentioned above, it is important that you have explicit permission to share images that imply an endorsement of a service, product, or business. You will likely need to ensure that you include a testimonials and endorsement disclaimer on your website. We’ve included an example below:

In addition, images that show someone in a negative light need to be handled with care. You may want to consider editing the images so that the client’s face is not visible (from the chest down) or seeking explicit permission to show a before and after with side by side images. Consider whether it is helpful to include weight or body fat percentages and what kind of myths you are seeking to challenge.

Consider adding a watermark to the images to add an extra layer of protection against theft. It is important that clients (or whomever is in the photographs) have given explicit permission for you to use their images (both before and after, but especially the before). Failure to obtain such permissions can result in leaving yourself open to claims of damages in addition to copyright infringement.

An example disclaimer that will help ensure that you are in compliance with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines on using testimonials and endorsements in advertising – assuming that you are only using before and after images and testimonials from real clients, and that you are not retouching or altering any of the images:

The weight loss and fitness testimonials presented apply only to the individuals depicted and should not be considered typical. Results are not guaranteed. Each and every testimonial on this website is from a real customer who used our programs, and/or workouts and nutrition advice listed on this website. No one was paid for a testimonial or endorsement. Before and after photos were not retouched or altered. Results (including but not limited to weight, body fat percentage, and measurements) were self-reported by the customer and therefore cannot be confirmed. Errors could have been made in reported weight and body composition numbers. You should assume that featured results are not typical.

Results Disclaimer. Thirdly, consider including a disclaimer about the results clients can or cannot expect. This helps allay unreasonable expectations. In addition to the example in the previous section, here are some additional example disclaimers:

  • The testimonials and examples provided are exceptional results, which do not apply to the average purchaser, and are not intended to represent or guarantee that anyone will achieve the same or similar results. Each individual’s success depends on his or her background, dedication, desire and motivation. As with any fitness program, your results may vary, and will be based on your individual capacity, effort, motivation, commitment, previous experience, follow through and level of desire. There are no guarantees concerning the level of success you may experience.
  • Each client has approved these testimonials, examples, and photos for use in materials to speak to our program, service, and/or product capabilities, but they are not intended to represent or guarantee that current or future clients will achieve the same or similar results. Rather, these client stories represent what is possible with our programs, services, and/or products.
  • The Results shown are based on active and strict participation in our program. Results may vary based on individual user and are not guaranteed. The testimonials, examples, and photos used are of actual clients and results they personally achieved.
  • If one does not follow the program as suggested, no results should be expected. XXXX endorse a healthy lifestyle program and a long term approach to body fat reduction, strength gain and functional conditioning. Any dramatic body transformations will take dietary discipline and hard physical work.

You will notice that the example disclaimers above overlap in a number of ways. This is because it is important that the disclaimers you use reflect your circumstances and business practices. You might also find this article helpful for other disclaimers that are important for fitness bloggers to consider.

Seeking advice from an attorney who is familiar with your business can be an investment that saves you money in the long term.

Conclusion

While you may be extremely excited about the results your clients are achieving and want to share those for the benefit of other potential clients or to advertise your successes, Read also, this article 10 things fitness professionals who blog should keep in mind.

About the author

Anna Blanch Rabe is a communications consultant, writer, and speaker. A non-practicing attorney, she works with social impact businesses and non-profit organizations to develop and effectively execute narrative initiatives to gain exposure, develop community capacity, and reach new customers. A former college level athlete, she now enjoys yoga and swimming, and crewing for her trail and ultrarunning husband.

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