I had heard the story about a new law, known as the instagram act, in the UK making “orphaned” photos free from normal copyright restrictions on republishing. So how does a photo become orphaned? Most jpegs, the most common format for posting photos on the web, have important detail about which camera, its setting and who took.owns the photos embedded in the photo itself, These are the EXIF and IPTC metadata and because they are embedded within the photo they travle with it when it is copied. Whilst some older programs may not handle them correctly, programs like picasa and lightroom and many others help you expand the details stored here. However then when I started to investigate some of the recent social photo sites I came face to face with the fact that most of the social sites where stripping out the metadata. In fact of the sites I have used only google+ is not altering the metadata. I must admit I was pretty shocked that Flickr was one of the worst offenders.
Right at the moment, posting your photos on social web sites, may not protect your rights much despite anything they might suggest in their terms of service. Add to this this “overlooking” of creative commons licencing on google+ and the web has become a less secure place to “share” your creations. Fortunately there is some good guidance being prepared.
IPTC Photo Metadata Working Group have prepared five guiding principles as our "Embedded Metadata Manifesto":
- Metadata is essential to describe, identify and track digital media and should be applied to all media items which are exchanged as files or by other means such as data streams.
- Media file formats should provide the means to embed metadata in ways that can be read and handled by different software systems.
- Metadata fields, their semantics (including labels on the user interface) and values, should not be changed across metadata formats.
- Copyright management information metadata must never be removed from the files.
- Other metadata should only be removed from files by agreement with their copyright holders.