As photographers, metadata like EXIF is invaluable. It provides insight into how a shot was taken, it allows you to add copyright information without an unsightly watermark, and it can even be used to recover stolen cameras. Now a consortium is pushing to have that embedded data made permanent, with a document called “the Embedded Metadata Manifesto”. Spearheaded by the International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC), the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the manifesto has five guiding principles:

Some of these are obviously invaluable (especially point 3 about keeping the data between formats), and for the vast majority of photographers probably useful, and if they get instituted, will help cut down of photos being unfairly used. Sure, someone will create a way around it, but if it’s significantly harder to do it might happen less. It’s also worth noting that this manifesto recommends using IPTC’s metadata system rather than the more common EXIF.

My one question is if this is forced, what happens if you want to strip the data? What if you want to anonymously upload a silly photo of a cat to the internet, but don’t want everyone knowing who you are? Or what if you want to secretly send in a photo of governmental abuse, but don’t want to have your name and copyright attached to it? Saying “copyright management information metadata must never be removed from the files” seems overly zealous and a little restrictive.

[via NPPA]