Reuters Strips All Metadata From Your Photos

Posted Aug. 20th, 2012 by Daniel J. Cox

Has anyone else noticed that all metadata is removed from images when sent out via Thompson/Reuters wire service? Take a look for yourself by following the link to a recent story they published of mine. Click on one of the four images and drag it to your desktop, then open it in PS or any program that gives metadata info. You will see not one shred of metadata remains and ALL my images including this one (I checked it) are processed with all metadata in place such as name, place, copyright, year etc. I can’t believe this is still an issue in 2012. Would love to hear from others. Why does this still have to be a problem?

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There are 14 comments on this post…
  1. L.P.O.On May. 9th, 2013


    I don’t see your problem. Facebook considers all data, be it text or images, posted to it as its own property. They do not need to caption their property. Why would they? They can do what they like with what belongs to them.

    To make a long story short: If you post an image on Facebook, you’ve already given away your copyright. If you let some other do it, they’ve given Facebook something that didn’t belong to them in the first place. In any case, Facebook = you lose.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 9th, 2013

      Dear L.P.O, your less than helpful attitude isn’t appreciated on this forum. However, since I’m a firm believer in giving everyone at least one chance I’m letting your snide, unhelpful and lazy ass comment through. It’s people with this type of attitude that allows organizations such as FB to do what they want. Rather than throw up your hands, why don’t you join those of us who are concerned and help get policy changed. Admittedly, that’s a lot more work but then a good work ethic is a positve thing. Help us take action.

  2. Cindy LewisOn Aug. 24th, 2012

    Hello All,

    I agree that registering your copyrights is step 1.
    Embedding metadata is step 2
    Getting people to stop removing the metadata is step 3, right?
    We need a marketing campaign..anyone know someone who could help us with this?

    Why not snipe it?
    “(c) 2012 Marina Scarr All Rights Reserved; Metadata Stolen by Facebook”

  3. Marina ScarrOn Aug. 23rd, 2012

    Hi Cindy:

    While a good idea, I don’t think it can work for FB since we already know FB automatically strips all metadata once the photo is uploaded. So where you wrote “If image found and metadata removed…”, if it’s on FB, we already know the metadata has been removed. I doubt FB is going to change their practice since they already consider all photos uploaded to their site fair game and have plainly said so.

    The best thing we can all do as photographers is copyright our images. I just wish the process were a tad less tedious. Continuing the dialogue on a mass scale couldn’t hurt either.


  4. Cindy LewisOn Aug. 22nd, 2012

    Greetings all!

    This is a great and insightful discussion. How can we act on this information and move the community forward?

    I’ll throw the first idea into the ring: what if we were to create a specially designed photo with a snipe (banner) across the image stating certain key metadata originally embedded in the image running as text across the image.

    For example: running diagonally across the image it could say:
    (c) 2012 John Doe All Rights Reserved
    Posted on Facebook 8-12-2012. If image found and metadata removed, please reply to …

    The image could then be posted across numerous social media sites.

    Thoughts? Better ideas? Flaws?

    Cindy Lewis

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      danieljcoxOn Aug. 23rd, 2012

      Cindy, Very interesting idea. Could you supply a sample with a few more details. I currently add my copyright and credit line on all Facebook images. Your idea sounds like a good start to keep this moving this forward. I’m doing a presentation in Seattle in November that I plan to discuss this situation to hopefully a large group of interested photographers. Maybe we can get this more formally organized. Thanks for your input and help.

  5. Marina ScarrOn Aug. 22nd, 2012

    Hello Daniel:

    No, I am not currently a member of ASMP,although I have been reading their info and viewed their tutorial on how to copyright images. It’s baffling that the government doesn’t seem to be able to make anything simple. You are more than welcome to share my situation with ASMP.

    Thanks to David for pointing out that FB strips all metadata. Although I now rarely upload photos directly to FB, if and when I do, I make sure there is a large copyright on the photo.

    While I now realize that FB strips metadata, NatGeo specifically wrote to me that stripping metadata was their procedure before posting pictures on FB. The one they posted yesterday doesn’t even have a copyright. At least they put a copyright on mine, although it was an easy one to remove and/or crop out b/c of its location. My photo on NatGeo had over 42,000 shares, so it’s safe to assume that it’s being misused.

    Thank you for addressing this egregious practice, Daniel. In so many respects the advent of technology has propelled photographers forward. You would think the same would be true with respect to copyright laws.

    Feel free to contact me at


    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      danieljcoxOn Aug. 22nd, 2012

      Great information Marina. Thanks for sharing. I plan to keep this discussion going. Please direct any others you know of with this sort of issue to this thread.

  6. David RiecksOn Aug. 21st, 2012

    In response to Marina’s post, note that all tests to date done for the “Survey regarding the Preservation of Photo Metadata by Social Media Websites” show that facebook has ALWAYS stripped metadata from image files. In this instance there is nothing that National Geographic can do short of not posting them on facebook that would prevent this from happening.

    Now that facebook is a publicly traded company, perhaps they will take the issue more seriously?

    At minimum, I hope all take a look at the survey preliminary results and choose a different service — one which respects and protects your intellectual property rights.

    As others have noted (Techmeme?), “If you are not paying for the service, you are the product.”


    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      danieljcoxOn Aug. 21st, 2012

      David thanks for your input. My goodness I thought this issue was long behind us. I plan to stay on top of Reuters. Your information Facebook is also eye opening. Will update as things progress. Thanks so much for adding this information to the Blog. Really appreciated.

  7. David RiecksOn Aug. 21st, 2012


    Not that it’s any consolation but many other news organizations, as well as social media and photo sharing sites do the same. This is a practice which should have come to an end before now, but unfortunately seems to becoming even more widespread.

    Take a look at the preliminary results from the “Survey regarding the Preservation of Photo Metadata by Social Media Websites” that was started in 2009.

    You can use the same online metadata reading tool that we used for the survey noted above. I’ve gone ahead and used the lead photo in the story as an example and created a shortened URL for it at:

    Note that the recent feasibility study from Richard Hooper — which came out of other work done as part of the UK Digital Economy bill research, including a report from Prof Ian Hargreaves — included the following recommendation in regards to “orphan works.”

    “Recognising that the stripping of metadata on a commercial scale can already constitute a criminal offence as well as a civil infringement, we call on all organisations that regularly use and resize pictures, such as broadcasters and newspapers, to agree a voluntary code of practice in which they publicly commit to: (1) end the practice of stripping metadata from images and (2) refuse to use images for which there is no metadata attached.”

    Please post and update if you hear anything back from Reuters.


  8. Marina ScarrOn Aug. 21st, 2012

    Hello Daniel:

    I understand your frustration since something similar recently happened to me. One of my best photos was recently posted by NatGeo to their FB page and I just learned after thousands of shares that NatGeo had stripped it of ALL metadata before putting it online.

    I wrote to NatGeo, and yesterday they apologized profusely and explained that they would immediately change their procedures before putting pictures online. This morning they had uploaded another gorgeous capture to their FB page with ALL metadata stripped.

    I find this totally unacceptable for such a reputable company and have contacted a copyright attorney.


    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      danieljcoxOn Aug. 21st, 2012

      Marina, thanks for our input. We need to keep this conversation going. I really appreciate you adding your voice. Are you a member of ASMP by any chance? I plan to bring my problem to their attention. It would be beneficial if you are a member to do the same. If you aren’t a memeber would you allow me to discuss your situation and give them your contact info?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      danieljcoxOn Sep. 26th, 2012

      Greetings Everyone,

      I’ve been off the grid for a few weeks and recently contacted my editor at Reuters requesting more info on how and why Metada is stripped from an image. Here is her response. Hard to believe but true.

      The stripping of captions can happen as it depends on the program the receivers use to get their pictures. As we use one version of photoshop- if their system is old- which even ours is- it may not read the IPTC fields correctly. However, every client will see the caption, and if they get them stripped, they normally call. It does happen, but rarely.

      The problem we had with your images that day was users had used them and not credited you properly. There really isn’t much we can do about it. We can’t isolate our clients by threatening not to give them photos if they do not correct properly. All agencies couldn’t do this as each newspaper, or online has it’s own method of captioning their photos. Some say a lot using long captions others truncate it. We do request they use our pictures with the correct captions, and if there is an error we do correct them- as in misidentifying someone. But if they left off a credit there really isn’t anything we can do to force it. It is unfortunately the nature of the business.

      Barbara Adhiya
      Senior Pictures Editor
      Thomson Reuters

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