Adding a deadbolt, getting a dog, and installing an alarm system will all help protect your home — but doing all three is even better. Image theft follows the same idea. Every layer of protection you use, like using Pixsy, registering a copyright or adding a watermark (you can also use a service like AIR Social Keyboard for that), goes one step further to make stealing an image hard enough that most won’t even bother. Learning how to add photo metadata is one more layer of protection you can add — and the process only takes a minute.
What is metadata?
Metadata is information hidden inside your photos that you can use to prove that the image you took is indeed yours. It will tell you what aperture you took the shot at, and, if your camera has a GPS, even where the image was taken. If you tell your camera who owns the copyright, the camera will automatically embed that information as well.
Currently, the feature is available on Nikon, Canon, and Olympus cameras.
Can metadata be removed?
Just like adding a deadbolt won’t prevent a thief from breaking the window, there are ways around metadata. Opening the file in Photoshop, it’s possible to remove the copyright metadata.
So why even add it in the first place?
First, removing the copyright metadata is illegal in the U.S., thanks to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Removing copyright metadata could be a $2,500 fine, or even jail time with a $500,000 penalty when done for commercial gain.
In most cases of unintentional image theft, your metadata will still be left intact. Most aren’t aware of the metadata embedded in files.
How to Add Photo Metadata In-Camera
You can add metadata to each image individually in Photoshop and in large batches in Lightroom — or you could add it once in-camera and forget about it until you upgrade your gear. Adding photo metadata is as simple as a few clicks inside the camera menu.
- Access your camera’s setup menu. On my Nikon D7200, that’s under the tool icon, but your menu may be arranged differently based on the camera you have. Inside the setup menu, access the option called Copyright, Copyright Information, or Copyright Settings. On a Canon, the “Copyright Information” option is usually located on the third or fourth screen of the setup menu (make sure you are in one of the manual modes, or you won’t be able to access this option). Olympus OM-D cameras have the option in the Record/Erase menu. The feature hasn’t been adapted by Fujifilm or Sony yet, unfortunately.
- Turn the Copyright function on. On my D7200, I simply had to press the right arrow to check the box.
- Attach your copyright data. Click on the artist option and type in your name. For the copyright information, enter the owner of the copyright — often, that’s you, but if you are contracted with a company that retains the copyright to your images, add the company name there (just remember to change it if you shoot for someone else). Click okay.
That’s it. Now, if you open an image you took after adding that data in Photoshop, you can see your information is automatically added to the photo:
How to Add Photo Metadata In-Post
Adding the copyright information in-camera is the simplest method, but it’s not available on every camera model and it’s a bit more limited. For example, in Photoshop you can add your website URL to the metadata, but you can’t do that in-camera.
In Photoshop, you can click File > File Info and then the copyright tab to add to the metadata individually. For example, the photos I took for the GIF above were shot with a Fujifilm, so I couldn’t embed copyright data. Instead, I could go in and add them in Photoshop:
Easy? Sure. But pretty time-consuming, if you’d like to add metadata to a bunch of images.
Lightroom will allow you to apply metadata edits to one large batch of photos.
On the righthand side, navigate to the metadata panel. At the top, click the drop down menu after presets, then select edit. With the preset drop down menu at the top, choose “Save Current Settings As A Preset.” Then, fill in any fields that you would like embedded in your image. Along with simply adding your copyright, you can add your website and your email address–this makes it easy for someone who would like to legally use the image to contact you. Once you’ve added everything, click done.
Back inside the library view of Lightroom, you can then select which images you’d like to apply the metadata to.
Hint: Use Command (Mac) / Control (Win) + A to select all the images within a folder.
With the images selected, choose your new preset in the dropdown menu in the metadata tab. A pop-up window will double check that you’d like to add the data, then once you click okay you’re done.
After you’ve created the preset, you can also add metadata as you import to Lightroom. On the right-hand side, under the “Apply During Import” option, simply select your metadata preset.
While adding the info in Lightroom isn’t quite as simple as the in-camera method, it will work for any camera and allows you to add additional data — like your website and email. Here’s a quick video re-cap of how to add photo metadata in Lightroom for the visual learners, directly from Adobe:
When it comes to protecting your images, every small step you take helps. Metadata is more like an added layer of protection than a complete security system, but with such a simple set-up, it’s well-worth the few seconds it takes to type in your name (or the few minutes to create a Lightroom preset).
Post by Hillary K. Grigonis, a Michigan-based lifestyle photographer. When she’s not taking pictures, she’s writing (about taking pictures).