Thursday, December 3, 2009

Do Social Media Websites Preserve Photo Metadata?

Do the social media websites or other image sharing services you use preserve your embedded photo metadata after upload? The members of the Controlled Vocabulary forum are attempting to answer that question by conducting a survey of the various services to find out.

Most readers of this blog know what we mean when we talk about photo metadata, such as the photographers name, copyright notice, captions, and keywords that can be embedded into image files. It takes effort and time to add this to each digital file, but does provide a way for those wishing to use the file to contact the owner, or know what is going on in the image.

It seems hard to imagine that simply by uploading an image to a website that all this work could be undone. However, from reviewing the preliminary results of the survey it appears that many services are doing just that.

If you don't find your favorite service in the list of preliminary results, there are instructions on the Controlled Vocabulary Survey regarding the Preservation of Photo Metadata by Social Media Websites web page if you want to help out with the survey. You can download the testbed file seen here, and use it, or test with your own images. Full instructions on using a simple online tool to view the metadata after upload are included. What you should be seeing in the image is something that includes IPTC, XMP, and Exif metadata as in the testbed image on the site. However the image that was uploaded to the Blogspot platform to accompany this post has had all of it's metadata removed.

It appears that even Google has left room for improvement.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Big Game Safari of a Different Sort

In a post titled "Tracking the Mac OS X Snow Leopard Photographer" on the Photo District News (PDN) blog, Daryl Lang details the steps he took to track down the origin of the photo of the big kitty on the cover of the new Apple OS X release.

In brief they were:

Step one: Poke around on the Internet.
Step two: Tineye.
Step three: Twitter.
Step four: Ask Apple.
Step five: PACA OrphanSearch.

David Sanger points out in a reply, the obvious step they missed -- checking to see if there was any metadata in the image itself, since there is a version of the cover image distributed with the new OS. In this particular instance a search would have also resulted in a "fail" as well. However, anyone that followed the results of our SAA "Meta Survey" of stock image distributors, would know that the image which Apple licensed from Corbis would have had this embedded information when it was licensed. So the real question is, at what step in the process was it removed and why?

Enquiring minds want to know and absent any answers, the hunt will have to continue.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Riecks named Pioneer of Digital Preservation

David Riecks, project leader for the Stock Artists Alliance Photo Metadata Project is the most recently named Library of Congress "Pioneer of Digital Preservation." The award reflects his work with photo metadata standards through efforts such as the IPTC Photo Metadata Working Group, and the Stock Artists Alliance Web site.

This Library of Congress program has only existed since 2000. The relatively new field of digital-information management is thus reliant on individuals and organizations that are willing to embark on cutting-edge programs that will lead others to follow their examples.

The profiles of these digital preservation pioneers feature how each individual's or organization's work enriches the work that all libraries and other repositories are doing to collect and preserve our digital heritage. You can view the complete list of digital preservation pioneers for some other interesting stories.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Get yourself to getMETAsmart!

The getMETAsmart tour is well underway. In the past month, David Riecks has traveled to Dallas, San Antonio, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Space is still available for this series of free evening seminars. Upcoming stops include New York City (June 22nd) and Washington DC (June 25), as well as Chicago, Atlanta, and Tucson in the upcoming months.

You will learn how using standard metadata can help protect your copyrights, support your licensing efforts, smooth your workflow, and help you manage ever-expanding digital archives. There have been a few reports about the getMETAsmart program so check them out if you want to see what others have to say, and be sure to sign up today.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Secret Life of Photo Metadata

David Riecks presented a key paper on photographic metadata May 7 at at the Archiving 2009 conference in Crystal City, Va. Riecks produced and shared the paper - titled "The Lifecycle of Embedded Image Metadata within Digital Photographs: Challenges and Best Practices (or The Secret Life of Photo Metadata)" - for the Stock Artists Alliance under the group's award from the Library of Congress' Preserving Creative America, National Digital Information Infrastructure Preservation Project. This year's Archiving conference drew about 150 attendees from some dozen countries. For details on the conference visit the Imaging Science and Technology website.

Riecks focused on how museums and libraries can use text information many professional photographers embed in their digital images, much as researchers use handwritten notes on the backs of prints.
This information can speed cultural heritage institutions' efforts to make those same images (once they become part of their collection) available to patrons in a digital format.
For details on the Stock Artists Alliance Photo Metadata Project visit