Share Beware, Social Media & Metadata

14 May

We have long known that Social Media is a hotbed for theft of your images, and we have all gotten more careful — at least I hope so — about making sure our metadata has all our copyright information in it and registering our photographs with the Copyright Office (see my blog on © Is for Copyright). We should be somewhat OK and protected, right?

Not so! A recent study by IPTC came out in March of 2013 showing otherwise.

IPT-what? One of the sections we fill out in our copyright templates or presets is labeled IPTC. IPTC stands for International Press Communications Council, and it is this council that did a study on social media.

I had noticed, for example, that when I right-clicked on my images posted on Facebook, the metadata was not showing up, and yet, I know I did not strip it when I exported the file for the Internet.

Hmmm! NOT good. So I did some research and found the IPTC report that everyone should read. The only Social Media sites that respect metadata are Google+ and to a slightly lesser degree, Dropbox.
Copyright © 2013 Embedded Metadata Manifesto - IPTC - International Press Telecommunications Council - All rights reserved.

Click here for the original, full-size image.

So, what to do? …

Quite simply, bit by bit, just as fast as I am able given our busy schedule, I am replacing any older photograph that didn’t have a visible watermark on it with a new version that does. Since we never posted images on Twitter or Flickr, we don’t have to worry about those.

We will continue to embed a digital watermark into our images, just as we have since Day One.

And we will probably post images more sparingly, instead of whole albums at a time.

We recommend that you consider doing somethiing similar. If you don’t try to protect your images, no one else will do it for you.

We always love to get comments.

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2 Responses to “Share Beware, Social Media & Metadata”

  1. Mark Goodwin 05-14-13 at 9:09 PM #

    It’s strange. I read this in last month’s Newsletter from BFP and posted it on a couple of sites. I was amazed that no-one responded!
    Like you, the last thing I do in Post Production is to check the file and ensure the meta data is all in place. I stopped posting photos to FaceBook a while ago and Twitter. As for Flickr I always include a watermark if I feel the photo is worth anything. I posted a pic of some wildlife recently to the RSPB site and a fellow member asked why I bothered with the watermark as she felt is marred the image. I explained that I had a number of pics stolen and hence the watermark. Another comment came on the same site on the same subject from an ex-picture editor. She said she understood my plight but did I realise that my watermark could be removed in minutes? To prove her point she reposted my pic with the watermark removed!!
    I give up!
    Hope you guys are well


    • TBC 05-15-13 at 6:01 AM #


      It is discouraging sometimes, which is why I also add a digital watermark to all our images. It has enabled me to find a number of cases of copyright infringement, and I sent the thieves invoices which they paid.

      It helps that we also file electronic registration for all our images with the Copyright Office (eCO). When you tell someone he/she has stolen your image and that you are covered by Federal law, it helps in collecting usage fees, particularly when you add that if the case were to go to court, they would end up paying not only the invoice, but their legal fees and your legal fees!

      Thanks for writing, and it is amazing that more people don’t know about intellectual property law and its ramifications.

      Take care,



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