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Goodbye Lenna. Scientists have been banned from using an iconic 1972 Playboy photo to illustrate articles

Goodbye Lenna. Scientists have been banned from using an iconic 1972 Playboy photo to illustrate articles
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A fragment of the digitized portrait of the Swedish model Lena Forsen, depicted in the centerfold of Playboy in November 1972, was widely used in scientific papers to test and illustrate image processing algorithms.

Last week, the Computer Society IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) announced that from April 1 they will no longer accept documentation that uses the image "Lenna".

"According to IEEE's statement on diversity, as well as out of respect for the wishes of the image subject, Lena Forsen, we will no longer accept documents containing images of Lenna," said Terry Benzell, Vice President for Technical and Conference Activities at the IEEE Computer Society.

The uncropped version of the test image first appeared on the centerfold of the December 1972 issue of Playboy magazine, and from June 1973, when researchers from the University of Southern California scanned a fragment of the poster to illustrate one of the articles, it began to be used as a standard image for testing and refining various image correction techniques, developing new processing algorithms, etc.

The original test image Lenna - a cropped part of the 1972 Playboy poster.

Despite obvious copyright infringement, Playboy did not go to court. In 1997, Forsen was invited to the 50th annual conference of the Society for Imaging Science and Technology, where she signed autographs for fans.

"They must be tired of me... Looking at the same picture for years," Lena joked then.

As Ars Technica notes, the snapshot featuring the face and bare shoulder of Forsen, wearing a hat with a purple feather, was ideal for testing image processing systems in earlier years due to its high contrast and variety of details. At the same time, the use of a sexual photo of a woman by men in the computer field has been criticized for decades - female representatives in the scientific field believed that the image "objectified women and created an academic climate in which they did not feel fully welcome."

In 2018, the use of Lena's image for articles was banned by the journal Nature.

Lena Foster in the documentary film Losing Lena

The model herself said in a 2019 interview that she is proud of her photo, but regrets that she received little money for it. Since then, Lena has changed her mind and in the documentary film Losing Lena advocated for the removal of the image.

"I left the modeling business a long time ago. It's time for me to also leave the science."

Thanks, your opinion accepted.

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