See what’s hidden in most photos
At the 2011 Engage Your Community conference someone who was concerned about copyright asked a question that went roughly like this:
Someone sent us some wonderful photographs to put in our newsletter, but I had a reason to doubt that they actually belonged to him and that he had the right to allow us to publish them. What should we do?
There are some fairly obvious answers about further communication, getting the person to sign a waiver, and perhaps publishing a disclaimer. Those are all good steps to take.
Most photos contain hidden information
But did you know that most photos these days carry invisible metadata? It usually tells you about the make and model of the camera used and sometimes about the photographer and even the location where the photo was shot. The camera adds some of this information automatically.
This information probably won’t be visible on the photo but if you know where to look you can check it for yourself. If Joe Bloggs from Westport was sending photos that he claimed to have taken himself last week, but the metadata claimed the photo was taken by Mary Smith in Canada 2 years ago, then you’d want to have a deeper conversation.
View the metadata
Here’s how to look at the metadata on a photo.
If you use a Mac import the photo into iPhoto. Then select the photo and choose
Show Extended Photo Info from the
Photos menu. A small window appears with information that may include the make and model of the camera, the GPS coordinates where the photo was shot and other information.
If you use Windows right click on a photo in Windows Explorer and look under Properties. The
General tab is probably open and it gives you the date it was taken, the size, and the location. If you need even more information look at the
Most professional photographers will make sure that any images they release contain their name and copyright information in the hidden metadata.
Always check if you have concerns
If you have any concerns about digital images that have been sent to you for publication, always look at this hidden metadata. There are ways to remove or change it, so it’s no absolute guarantee but it does give you an extra tool in your publishing toolbox.
Actually, the GPS data embedded in this photo is inaccurate — it’s off by about 2 Km. But if someone claimed it were taken 500 Km away you could rightly be suspicious.
Written by Miraz Jordan for, and reproduced from CommunityNet Aotearoa Panui, July 2011. This article has been modified for publication here.