Metadata and Copyright: My Lightroom Workflow, Part I

Metadata and Copyright: My Lightroom Workflow, Part I

I was chatting with some friends a few days ago when the subject of copyright, medatata, and watermarking came up and somebody mentioned the importance of clearly stating your copyright in metadata. After the chat, I went back to Lightroom, re-checked all my recent photos and found some who didn’t have a copyright notice, for some reason. Thankfully, it is very easy, in Lightroom, to select all the images in a catalog and apply the same metadata to them.

Prompted by this, I promised myself that I would write a short series of blog posts describing how I manage metadata, especially for what concerns copyright, in my workflow. This is the first post in the series: Stay tuned for more to come.

Copyright notice in camera

Not many people are aware of this, but most cameras have a configurable parameter (on Nikon DSLRs it is called “Image comment”) that can be used to add a comment to pictures. I always put a copyright notice in mine, so images are “protected” from the moment I hit the shutter. I must remember to do so whenever I get a new camera.


Image Comment setting on Nikon D90

Once you transfer your photos to your computer, you can check the presence of the comment using a tool for examining the EXIF information. I use exiftool for this and other purposes. Here is how it can be used from the Terminal (OS X) or the Command Prompt (Windows):

    exiftool DSC_0001.NEF
    ... lots of lines
    User Comment : Copyright (C) Ugo Cei
    ... lots of lines

Having a copyright message stamped into every picture you take could be a handy way to make sure all your photos are traceable to you, even before they are downloaded from the memory card.

That’s it for now. In the next installments, I will demonstrate how I use Adobe Lightroom to automatically add even more copyright metadata to my images.


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