Photography sites and metadata

Just when you thought you might be safe, along comes another story to shoot holes in your confidence. What am I talking about? I am talking about reputable(?) newspapers. Wait! Does that term really mean anything? Can newspapers be trusted with your images?

In the February 10, 2012 issue of the British Journal of Photography, there was a feature story in The Daily Telegraph’s online edition, Mail Online, about copyright infringement by that publication.

“Photographer Jonathan Kent first contacted BJP on Wednesday 08 February when he found that his image of Mary-Ann Ochota, a Channel 4 broadcaster, had been used by Mail Online without permission. After being alerted of the copyright infringement by its picture desk, a senior figure at the Mail swiftly moved to compensate Kent.”

It seems, however, that the same image was used again, without the required permission. The Telegraph came back with the response that, “…picture desks around the country are not always required to seek permission before publishing images.” Needless to say this is a very sticky situation that needs to be addressed professional, and actually quilte simply: metadata. Compensation recovery and satisfaction is still ongoing in this case.

With most photo-editing software there is an ability to label your image with metadata. You can input a wide variety of information that will solidify your ability to protect your images. You can see from the Photoshop CS5 “File Info” example (below) how easy and efficient it would be. 
 

File Info: Photoshop CS5

The Telegraph maintained that the photographer had no copyright data attached to the image that was used, therefore, they “felt” that the image may well have dropped into the public domain.

Many site providers also allow for inputting data to be attached to images. My provider, PhotoShelter, offers a well laid out, almost all-inclusive metadata section for each image on my site, and you can also fill in certain parts and that data will be automatically inserted into each image’s data form. Along with each picture, you can insert a wealth of data that will enable your image to be identified, and (hopefully) deter would-be thieves. With a Photoshelter site (below) you can also allow/disallow right click copying, add watermarks, etc.

Image and Meta Data from Photoshelter

In a book I recently received, “Get Your Photography on the Web,” author RC Concepcion writes, ” I know metadata doesn’t sound like a very sexy thing to talk about, but it’s absolutely essential when you are posting your images online. More and more, companies are taking to the Internet to find the images that they need instead of going to the big stock houses. Taking a couple of seconds to put some vital information in there will make all the difference in getting you paid, should someone want to use your images.”

So, how do you handle your info? Do you at least place the basic contact/copyright information? I know I am as guilty as most of you in not doing this properly. After I decided to write this post, however, I have placed metadata info in one of my galleries on my personal Photoshelter site, www.timothybanderson.com.

About Tim

Tim Anderson is the former publisher/managing editor of CameraArts magazine, and now produces Red Dog News, a bi-weekly photography-related e-newsletter that goes out to more than 15,000 subscribers. For his personal photography, he specializes in fine art nudes, and recently participated in the show, "1x15." Anderson is a co-founder of Rio Grande Workshops, and manages several photography Websites and blogs, as well as his personal site (www.timothybanderson.com). He has juried all around the country for Review Santa Fe, Review LA, Photo Lucida, The Center for Fine Art Photography, The Gala Awards, The Palm springs Photo Festival, etc. He is also a published poet, and recently released (www.cygnetpress.com) a collection of his work, "Frame of Mind."