Understanding the Issues of Stripping Contact Information From Your Photos

Posted May. 16th, 2013 by Daniel J. Cox

In my ongoing quest to end the stripping of Contact Information/Metadata from the photos we all share across the Internet, I’ve been reaching out to folks who have been working to bring attention to this problem much longer than I have. One of the Metadata/Contact Information heroes is a gentleman named David Riecks. David recently sent me a collection of web addresses and information to help explain what we’re all up against. His email is copied and pasted in its entirety below. Take a read and follow the links to get a better understanding of this difficult problem. Education is the first step to solving any problem. The better educated we are the more powerful position we’ll all be in to make the changes necessary to protect our photos. The following video, by IPTC managing director Michael Steidl, is a bit dry but very informative.



Whether images have rights-based or other metadata embedded was one of the points that we brought up in the original “Metadata Manifesto” that was distributed at the Microsoft Pro Photo Summit in 2006 on behalf of the Stock Artists Alliance. It was also the point of a survey we conducted on the major stock agencies (like Getty, Corbis, etc.) in 2007/2008 as part of the Photometadata project, so I guess you could say that I’m intimately aware of the issue.  😉
I assume you are familiar with the two more recent surveys with which I’ve been involved… 
http://www.controlledvocabulary.com/socialmedia/ which started collecting this information in 2009, and which the IPTC recently summarized at 
The press release from March 12 can be found at: 

We’re working on putting together a round table of industry experts to discuss this issue in an open forum. Would you be interested in being considered for the panel? Hope to hear from you.

I think such a round table could be very valuable to the industry. As John McHugh pointed out in a presentation at a recent Machine Readable Rights conference — where he gave a number of real-word examples of how technology like his Marksta app for iOS can help — protecting your work means professionals can continue to earn a living in photography. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3368uw2DQ0 
In addition, you might find IPTC managing director Michael Steidl’s presentation useful as well, where he asks the question “Do embedded rights metadata of photos survive social media systems?” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfG_vW-cWMM and explains the results of the survey.
I’d be happy to be included on the panel, though please let me know if this proposal is accepted, as at this point I’ve not made plans to be at this year’s PhotoPLUS expo. 
From previous proposals that I’ve made myself,  I know that the organizers behind PhotoPLUS have been more restrictive in what they offer as compensation. The last time I checked, it was my recollection that they were expecting the group or person submitting the idea to have a sponsor to cover any costs (airfare, lodging of participants) to cover. As a result, I’ve not made any submissions since the SAA dissolved, as most of the program ideas I’ve had don’t lend themselves, or are not things in which sponsors are interested.
Here's the guy squeezing your right hand as he extracts cash from your pocket with his left hand. He's the multibillion dollar business guy Mark Zuckerberg the one who owns Instagram. .

Mark Zuckerberg of FaceBook

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There are 3 comments on this post…
  1. Sherry Clewell PhotographyOn Jun. 8th, 2013

    I really appreciated this info. I have people take my work all the time. They feel if they are in the photo, they are entitled to have it. 🙁 Sherry C

    (My website is being worked on)

  2. susan mcelhinneyOn May. 22nd, 2013

    Dan, Keep up the good work and the rest of you out there— WAKE UP!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 22nd, 2013

      Thanks Susan, it’s a long road but I think we’re making progress.

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