Open Invitation to Photo Industry Players – Metadata Roundtable at PhotoPlus Expo 2013

Posted Mar. 24th, 2013 by Daniel J. Cox

I’m currently working with ASMP on a program to highlight the issues of Contact Information, known as Metadata, being stripped from our photographs when uploaded across the web.  We’re planning to have a roundtable-like discussion this fall at PhotoPlus Expo 2013 in New York City. I’m interested in contacts representing any of the major players within the industry such as Apple, Adobe, Google, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or others. Help me think of additional players.

A wildfire burns through the tundra and boreal forest in an area known for polar bear denning sties near the Deer River south of Churchill, Manitoba.

Like wildfire spreading across the web, photographers contact information, known as Metadata, is being destroyed as you upload your photos to some of the world’s most popular social media sites as well as the world’s largest news organizations including Thompson/Reuters. Help retain YOUR rights to YOUR photos. You own them and should be able to keep your contact information in place.

This all was a result of the issue I had with Thompson/ Reuters news agency last summer. You can read about that here. If any of you know the appropriate people, have suggestions, or are the folks we need input from, please send me that information. I’m hopeful through social networking we can make this happen. Our goal is not to litigate but to educate. We all need to work on this together to get it done. Please help.

PS – The uploading of the image above to MY WordPress Blog stripped all contact info/metadata from this image. I’m now trying to figure out why. All photos I’ve been uploading to my blog for the past several years apparently were being stripped of all the information I’ve been screaming about. This is how pervasive this problem is. Even in my frustrated state of bouncing off the ceiling the web is giving me the shaft. I had never checked my images uploaded to the blog. They are all missing the contact info/metadata that I always embedded in them. This is crazy!

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There are 21 comments on this post…
  1. Curtis KnightOn May. 6th, 2013

    I’m just an amateur at this point, hoping to someday use photography to subsidize my retirement. I enjoy sharing my images online, but I’ve about reached the point where I don’t want to post anything that I might want to sell someday, simply because of all the shenanigans being played by the big players in social media.

    The UK has basically opened the door for anyone to take a photograph from anywhere, strip the metadata, and claim it as orphaned. And there’s no way to prove who stripped the data.

  2. Dr. Ellen K. RudolphOn May. 5th, 2013

    Daniel, a work-around at least for a [WordPress blog] is to house the blog inside your own web site. My server, Pair Networks, allows me to add WordPress functionality to my site without all the online ‘rules.’ Same look, same easy functionality, no metadata hassles.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 5th, 2013

      Ellen, good info and actually I’m doing everything you suggest already in regards to my own web site and WordPress Blog. what concerns me is not being able to safely share my work across the web if I choose due to other web sites process of stripping all contact information/metadata.

  3. Jenelle TraderOn Mar. 28th, 2013

    Wow! I didn’t know these sites were doing this. I will definitely share this.

    Good Luck!

  4. Chuck TinteraOn Mar. 27th, 2013

    Metadata is being stripped for efficiency? Nonsense, it’s being stripped because servers are set to configuration that should be out-of-date by now.


  5. Wil HershbergerOn Mar. 25th, 2013

    Well, this is fascinating. I can’t imagine that all of the effort to protect the copyright of the photographer has gone for not. Thank you for bring this disgusting situation to the forefront. I would imagine that another way that these companies have an out is by our agreeing to the terms of use for these sites.
    This certainly makes the practice of adding your copyright, to the face of a displayed image itself, seem even more important.
    Best of luck with this important effort.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 25th, 2013

      Wil, absolutely right about the need to add a watermark to your images. Don’t let this die. Help us as best you can by spreading this message far and wide, Facebook, Linkedin, Google+ or any other ways you have. We need the masses to care if we hope to make these changes happen. Thanks for adding your voice.

  6. Karine AignerOn Mar. 25th, 2013


    I had no idea. Going to repost this on FB as a call for contacts if anyone has them…


    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 25th, 2013

      Thanks so much Karine. Ironically, Social Media is the problem but also has the potential to solve the problem. If we all work together we can share our images to our hearts content knowing that if someone wants to contact us they can do that easily. But we do have a long hard battle to fight to make this happen. Please spread the word as wide as possible. We appreciate your help

  7. LesleyOn Mar. 25th, 2013

    Good initiative! I hope you get some people around the table to talk about this. Good luck.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 25th, 2013

      Lesley, Luck will be needed to make this all happen. Please give us a hand by spreading this message far and wide. Anyone who shoots photos is effected by this, especially the cell phone crowd and we need the masses to get interested if we have a prayer of making the changes happen.

  8. Valerie HenschelOn Mar. 25th, 2013

    Copyright law will be the enforcer in this arena. Unless I am mistaken, any American based company that strips copyright from an image would be in gross violation of the American copyright law, and subject to class action lawsuits. I was notified that it is curre3ntly illegal to remove copyright information from digital files. Not so?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 25th, 2013

      Valerie, I thought the same but it seems that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the law that was supposed to stop this sort of thing, has a major loophole in it. Apparently, if the offending company, such as Thompson/Reuters, doesn’t’ know they are stripping the contact info/metadata they can not be held accountable for their offending action. If you can believe it, the DMCA was passed in 1998 and the loophole I mentioned is the major reason this ridiculous issue is still going on. If the DMCA law had any teeth in it, somebody would have sued Reuters or others long ago and we would no longer be talking about this issue. Personally, I hate litigation and in general I’m not in favor of it. However, since the DMCA was passed nearly 15 years ago, it’s obvious that the only way you stop negative behavior, such as this ongoing stripping of contact info/metadata, will only come to an end if there is an incentive to do so. Until that happens we have to hope the good will of the industry and education, will overcome the fact we have no law to make the issue go away. Very frustrating.

  9. Christina SpadeOn Mar. 25th, 2013

    I see through Linked In that you are active in efforts to make sure that the photographs and the photographers themselves are treated with respect. Thank you for that. I am new to photography and I now understand all the time, effort, and commitment it takes to create a photograph that’s beautiful and unique. I am weary of all the backhanded politics associated with big companies that don’t care about the effort put forth by the photographer. I’m just a girl from Texas but if there is anything I can do to spread the word, please let me know.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 25th, 2013

      Christina, thanks for stopping by to voice your concern for all photographers and their work. It’s a very important issue and one I’m hopeful is finally rising to the attention it deserves. It’s hard to believe that the internet has been with us since the early 90’s and yet there has been no pressure on the major internet providers, image software companies, politicians, etc. to make sure all Contact Information, what I like to refer to as formerly known as Metadata, stays embedded in the images we post online. Don’t sell yourself short by thinking you, “just a girl from Texas” can’t do anything. You have a voice and you have the ability to use it by contacting your senators and congressman to insist that they add language to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that forbids the removal of Contact and Copyright Information from photos being posted online. Any photo you post to Facebook is stripped of all contact information and you should have the right to make sure that is not the case. Take a look at these articles on my Blog that hopefully will encourage and inspire you to continue to help us change this problem.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 25th, 2013

      Great idea Mike, thanks for your suggestion.

  10. ruth gittoOn Mar. 25th, 2013

    Hi Daniel,
    Glad you want to address this issue. I would certainly add Google to your list. I believe they now have an office in NYC.
    Hope this helps,

  11. Linda Cresap (Sandstrom)On Mar. 24th, 2013

    Still using the tent you bought for us about 25+ years ago! Hope all is well with you.

  12. Greg VaughnOn Mar. 24th, 2013

    A few years ago the reason given for stripping the metadata was that the host sites wanted to make the image files as small as possible so they loaded as quickly as possible. In fact, however, metadata adds only a few bytes to the size of a file, and for the vast majority of computer users these days, thanks to broadband service, that tiny increase should be a non-issue.

    It also seems to me that the hosts are misguided in stripping the metadata, because if it was there, searches would bring them more traffic.

    Thanks for taking up this issue, Daniel. If you haven’t already done so, you might contact photographer David Riecks, who has long been involved in similar efforts.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 24th, 2013

      Thanks for your input Greg. I have reached out for David Reicks. Hoping we connect on this.

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