Saturday, August 30, 2014 makes “marking” image easy, and preserves your embedded metadata

I just ran a few tests the other day on the service to see how it deals with embedded photo metadata. The good news is that it does preserve all of the embedded metadata (IPTC, XMP and Exif)! Their promo page doesn’t mention this as a feature, but I would suggest they add this as it is a benefit. If you are only interested in the technical aspects, jump down to the section on “Notes on the Service.”

There is no cost to use the service (though it’s not clear if that will be the case forever). is a free service provided by Much Media Inc, of Ontario Canada. The terms of service (TOS) do note that “Much Media Inc retains the right to create limits on use and storage in its sole discretion at any time with or without notice.”  As far as ownership of the images you watermark, Section 2 states “As between you and Much Media Inc, however, you own and retain sole and exclusive right, title and interest in and to all of your User Content (subject only to the limited license therein granted to Much Media Inc under this Section 2).”. If that is referencing the fourth paragraph of Section 2, that part reads:

“You acknowledge and agree that if you use any of the Services to contribute User Content to the Site in such manner as to make it available to all users or to permit third parties to contribute Content through your User account, Much Media Inc will have a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, transferable, sublicensable right, under all of your intellectual property rights, to copy, cache, publish, display, perform, distribute, translate and store such User Content, and to allow third parties to do so in connection with the marketing or promotion of Much Media Inc, the Site or the Services by such third parties. To the extent allowed by law, the foregoing includes all rights of paternity, integrity, disclosure and withdrawal. You warrant, represent and agree that you have the right to grant Much Media Inc and the Site the rights set forth above.”

I am not a lawyer, so you may want to have yours read over that to see if you are relinquishing copyright to any of your images. From my reading, that latter paragraph seems to contradict the earlier statement in their Terms of Service.

Notes on the Service:
You can log in to the service with Facebook, Google, or enter a password and username of your own choice (curiously there is no method to authenticate with Twitter).

If you are going to be posting the resulting watermarked image on many social media services, keep in mind that many will strip your image of it’s embedded metadata. However, given that the whole point of using is to add a visible watermark, that’s probably not your primary concern. Rest assured, however, this service does a great job of preserving any IPTC, XMP, or Exif metadata embedded in your image.

It's nice that you can simply drag to an open browser window. Though there is an option to use a standard "upload" dialogue, or even import images from Facebook. As an aside I would recommend watermarking your images BEFORE posting on Facebook -- as the Facebook upload process will strip all embedded metadata.

The options for adding watermarks are fairly straight forward.  You can apply text (with options for various fonts, font colors, "strokes" and more), or upload and apply a logo. At present the service can only deal with logos that are stored in a JPEG or PNG format. It’s curious that there is no support for vector formats, like EPS or Adobe Illustrator “AI” files.

Whether your watermark is text or a logo, you can position by dragging it around on the image in your browser. After applying the watermark, the resulting files can be downloaded as a Zip file (if doing batch).  

As noted previously, the embedded metadata is preserved in your images.

The image quality seems quite good. The overall file size does appear to increase a bit. One of the images I tested was a graphic image (with lots of white) and it went from 203 to 351 kilobytes. However, another image that was a photo increased only marginally; going from 522 to 555 kilobytes after watermark processing.

If keeping file sizes to their absolute minimum is your primary goal, this service may not be the best option. But for those of you that only need to watermark a handful of images at a time before posting on social media, this may be a good option (once you figure out what the Terms of Service mean).

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Six Ways to Keep your Digital Images from Becoming “Orphan Works”

The UK has recently passed the Enterprise & Regulatory Reform Act by Royal Assent, which, among other things, creates a method by which “Orphan Works” can be exploited. Simply put, if you are unable to identify the copyright holder of any photo, drawing, painting, music, film, etc. -- after conducting a “diligent search”-- then it may be considered an “Orphan Work.” This is a legitimate problem for many galleries, libraries, archives and museums that have acquired works over the years, as without knowing who created each, it’s not possible to know whether copyright is still in effect. For example, If they use a photo to make a postcard to sell in their giftshop, and it turns out that the photographer is still alive they may find themselves in court fending off a copyright infringement.

In 2008 “orphan works” legislation was progressing through the US Congress. A bill did make it through the House, however no corresponding bill ever made it out of the Senate (you may recall fall 2008 was a little hectic what with near financial ruin due to the home mortgage derivatives market collapse). While many thought that would be the end of it, with the UK ERR act passage, this issue may be revisited sooner than some expected.

With all of this in mind, if you are going to share your images in the “World Wild West” here are some ways to make it easier to identify you as the creator/copyright holder of your digital photographs. Taking some (or all of these steps), should mean there’s little chance that you’ll find your images being labeled as “orphan works.”

Add Metadata In-Camera
Some of the higher end digital SLR cameras allow you to add a Creator or Copyright Notice to the Exif metadata that is written to each image file just before it is saved from your camera to your memory card. Many Canon and Nikon models offer this in a number of their midrange or higher end digital cameras. On Nikon cameras you can enter an “Image Comment” using the controls on the back of the camera in the menu. On many Canon models, this is done using software provided by Canon, and then loading this info into your camera via a memory card.

Add Metadata post-capture
As soon as possible in your imaging workflow be sure to embed your Creator and Copyright information as photo metadata using IPTC and XMP standards. Use image applications, browsers or cataloging programs to put in your name as the Creator, and as the Copyright holder in all of the images you have taken before you upload them to the web or distribute to others. To make it easy for others to find you; you may also want to include some basic contact information. At minimum, include your website URL, if not your address, phone number or email address. The Meta tutorials on will show you how to do this for a variety of applications.

For those of you using iOS “smart-devices” (iPhone & iPod Touch) cameras, check out Marksta, an app that you can use right after you capture an image to add up to about 20 IPTC/XMP metadata values.

Watermark your images
Create a visible watermark that you can place over each of your images. There are numerous tutorials that show you how to do this with Photoshop, Photo Mechanic, Breeze Browser and other applications. I just discovered recently, you can even do this with the free Picasa application from Google (Use the File >> Export Picture To Folder option).  If you are using an iOS “smart-device” (like the iPhone or iPod Touch with cameras), Marksta can apply a visible watermark as well as embed your contact and copyright info.

Carefully Choose Where You Upload Your Images
You will have the most control if you upload and share images from your own website. If you are going to use other services, be sure to first read their terms of service. In addition, you want to make sure that they are not “stripping” your metadata from the images being displayed. The Embedded Metadata Manifesto website has a chart showing which Social Media Networks preserve photo metadata.
You can find other details on many more sites by reviewing the preliminary results of the “The Controlled Vocabulary Survey regarding the Preservation of Photo Metadata by Social Media Websites”. If you don’t find your service of choice, consider adding to the ongoing survey.

Join the PLUS Registry
The Picture Licensing Universal System Coalition is an international non-profit organization with a tightly focused mission: to simplify and facilitate the communication and management of image rights. PLUS membership is free, and allows you to add a Registry listing. Clients will be able to search for you by name, and even search for your images (using an image recognition engine). The PLUS Registry will serve as a global, multilingual hub for other registries, and will allow registration and search using third-party applications and plug-ins.

Register Your Images with the US Copyright Office
This isn’t only for US Citizens. Registering your images gives you additional protections, such as being able to ask for statutory damages and attorney fees if you win an infringement case. Detailed info can be found in the ASMP Copyright Tutorial.

Lastly, while it’s not going to immediately help your own case, please consider supporting the Embedded Metadata Manifesto and lobby against the stripping of metadata from all digital files.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

IPTC study shows Social Media Networks Remove Metadata

We support the Embedded Metadata Manifesto
As visitors to the PhotoMetadata website know, digital camera files contain more information than just a stream of pixels. Even basic photo editing software, like those covered in the site's Meta Tutorials, allows photographers to embed rights-based information (like a Copyright Notice) and other descriptive information. However, you wouldn't know that from looking at pictures on many social media sites or after downloading them from photo sharing sites. According to a new study just released by the International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC), major social networks like Facebook, Twitter or Flickr remove copyright information and other useful embedded data from pictures posted by their users.

"A social networking site is only as good as the information its members choose to share. If users provide rights data and descriptions within their images, these data shouldn't be removed without their knowledge", said Michael Steidl, Managing Director of the IPTC, a consortium of the world's major news agencies, news publishers and news industry vendors.

Every day, more and more photos are shared over social media. IPTC was approached by users who discovered that when they shared photos, their embedded metadata disappeared. Earlier this month, the IPTC Photo Metadata Working Group tested 15 social media sites to understand how image sharing, through upload and download, affects the integrity of embedded metadata as defined by IPTC standards and the Exif standard. The results of these tests can be seen at

The full news release about the Social Media Study is available from the IPTC website.

Monday, December 12, 2011

New Site Launched to Encourage Embedding of Metadata

We support the Embedded Metadata Manifesto

A major initiative to encourage the direct embedding of descriptive and rights information into all manner of digital media has just been launched. endorses the effort and is helping to spreading the word.

“A picture may be worth 1,000 words, but permanently attached descriptions are worth a lot more as photos travel through the digital world. A campaign has been launched now to embed descriptive and rights information in digital media and to retain it during the whole life cycle.

The initiative has been launched by the International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC), the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A's), and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), with the support of trade organisations representing visual arts and photo agencies. It aims to establish the practice of applying descriptions and the copyright status of the content as metadata, and to embed it permanently during the electronic exchange of digital photo, text, audio or video files.

This practice is based on the principles defined by the Embedded Metadata Manifesto on the web site which invites organisations and individuals to support the campaign.”

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Why can't I insert metadata at the capture stage?

Mike Ashenfelder from the Library of Congress interviewed me recently for an article on their website Titled "Mission Possible: An Easy Way to Add Descriptions to Digital Photos." He was asking why adding information (metadata) to images is so difficult. I told him that this was an issue I had raised at the First International Photo Metadata Conference in 2007. I noted that photographers need ways to insert metadata as early as possible in the process; and asked why it wasn't possible to have some device that could be used to input information and tag it to the images I was shooting at the time of capture. There were engineers from Canon and Nikon in attendance, and it seemed that they understood the question, but I'm not aware of any progress in this area.

However, since manufacturers and developers do seem respond to input from those who purchase their products, perhaps what is needed is a grass roots appeal? With that in mind, I've included details on how to contact several of the larger digital camera manufacturers. If a number of you contact them, asking if they are working on improvements on how metadata (information) can be added to the Exif or IPTC at the time of capture, perhaps something will change?

Ask them "Why isn't there a 'Add Description' button for my camera?"
In the section labeled "Inquires" select your country and region for a listing of who to contact. In the US you can call Nikon Technical Support from 8AM - 2AM (Eastern) 7 days a week at 1-800-645-6687.

To contact Canon by email
In the US you can you can call Customer Service 1-800-385-2155


In the USA call Toll Free: 1-800-224-6767

In the USA call Digital Camera support Monday-Friday, between 9am-9pm Eastern at 1-888-553-4448

There are options to email, phone, or live chat from the link above. 

Let us know if you find anything out by adding a note in the comments below.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Can Embedded Photo Metadata Help Your Website SEO?

There have been a number of recent articles pushing the idea that embedded photo metadata can boost your search engine ranking. However, while the practice of adding embedded metadata to increase findability and to protect the intellectual property of an image are both good ideas, there is a hitch to this concept from the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) perspective.

That is, while it is possible for automated search bots to be configured to read the embedded photo metadata embedded in digital images, there is no evidence to suggest that the search engines are currently doing this; nor is there any evidence that it will help with the SEO for your images or your website — at least not without some additional work. That doesn't mean that embedding metadata in your images is not a good practice. It's just at this point in time that it has little value for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Read more about what can be done to leverage your metadata work in the article "Why Embedded Photo Metadata Won't Help Your SEO."