If you publish media content online, like posting photos, videos, graphics, music, you should be concerned about losing control of your intellectual property, your creativity. If you create for a living, you should be even more concerned.
We do live, these days, in an online ‘sharing’, or ‘social’ environment, which sometimes means instead, you give me a piece of your creativity or personal information so I can profit from it without compensating you. It’s an aging adage of the online world that if something is ‘free’, you are the product.
Sometimes the terms and conditions of a site or service allow them to strip the metadata and use your work without compensation. There are tools to check on the survival of your metadata after an image has been published. Try Jeffrey’s Exif viewer or search online for terms like ‘exif viewer’ or ‘metadata viewer’. If you find some good ones, add a comment or email me.
Give these things a thought next time an application or online service wants to have your information. They’re asking you to give them, free of charge, raw material that they can sell and profit from. Not fair, right? Do you care about fairness?
Certainly there are times when we post images or creative works online which we think have little commercial value. Well, that’s fine as far as it goes. But think about the bigger picture. Unrestrained ‘sharing’ is actually killing the concept the you own what you create, the fundamental basis of copyright. Once every member of a society no longer owns their creations (their intellectual property), then what do you have left? The door is left wide open for the thought police for instance, or the degradation of privacy principles we in the US take as a right.
(Whenever I post images, I mark them as copyrighted, include metadata, and when posting to third party sites I do so with the knowledge the work can easily be stolen, but at least I’ve asserted ownership; I don’t earn my living from photography; it’s not an easy balance for me and I am struggling with what is the right thing to do if I want friends and family to be able to view my images).
Creative Commons has taken interesting steps in the direction of giving creators finer control of their copyrights, but as a movement it is based, in my experience, on a rather extreme view of ‘fair use’, too extreme for my taste.
Have a look then, at the Embedded Metadata Initiative, supported by some rather significant tech and media entities. Their linked logo is in the sidebar as well.
[Disclosure: no financial interest, full support of the idea]