Social networks omit photographers’ rights data

Facebook, Twitter and Flickr risk falling out with photographers after a study showed that the trio routinely remove copyright information and other valuable embedded data from pictures posted on their respective platforms.

Having tested 15 social media networks to gauge how image sharing affects the integrity of embedded metadata, IPTC found that ‘the big three’ strip out the description, the name of the creator and any copyright notes.

The full findings, which have been made available online, indicate that other networks used by image-sharers are more respectful, with Google+ and Tumblr in particular both having processes in place to protect photographers’ data better.

David Riecks, on the test team at the International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC), reflected: “Professional photographers work hard to get specific information -- like captions, copyright and contact information -- embedded into their image files.

“Therefore it's often a shock when they learn that the social media system they chose has removed the information without any warning to them.”

He also noted that, “since some countries are in the midst of passing 'Orphan Works' laws, any files that are stripped [out] may be considered potential 'orphans' without having any copyright protection.”

Pointing to the big three social networks, the council all but called for a rethink on their policies of stripping out copyright and other valuable data in users’ photographs, suggesting that even notification of the action would be a welcome improvement.

Managing director Michael Steidl explained: “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.”


4th April 2013

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