Marine Photographers urged to use IPTC metadata to protect Copyright

Image with IPTC data
Brendan Maxwell
Sailing and boating clubs and events need to address the need for copyright protection of images taken by event photographers. This is not a new problem, but as the media world consumes more and more images, the problem of unattributed or incorrectly attributed images being supplied by clubs and events to media is growing.

There is a constant struggle to get sailing coverage in mainstream media, and the photo attribution issue does not aid that struggle. Media react badly – very badly – having published event-supplied images in good faith when they are sent legal letters or receive aggressive emails or phone calls from event photographers complaining that their images have either not attributed or incorrectly attributed.

This seems to happen mostly when images are supplied to clubs by amateur or semi-professional photographers who are unfamiliar with the professional solutions available to ensure their data stays with their images.

The solution was developed almost 30 years ago. The magic words are ‘IPTC metadata.’ IPTC metadata is a standardised data set of textual information in images defined by the International Press Telecommunications Council. Developed for professional photographers, it allows photographers to attach information to images for electronic submissions.

The IPTC data stores captions, keywords, location, photographers’ contact details and copyright information, among other items.

Because the image’s information is stored in a standard way, it can be accessed by other IPTC-aware applications, used by major media outlets.

Professional marine photographers routinely use IPTC metadata. However there are a range of amateur and semi-professional photographers supplying images to events and clubs, causing the industry issues because they are not conforming to professional standards.

No IPTC metadata
Brendan Maxwell

So what is the solution for event managers?

Ask your event photographer to show you the IPTC metadata on supplied images. This does not just apply to paid media but to anyone supplying images to your event.

Insist in writing that all images supplied and distributed by photographers to the event contain specific details: event name, photographer name and photographers website at an absolute minimum.

This is sensible protection for the photographer, and it is a simple way to ensure you do not become the meat in the sandwich between angry media and angry photographers. It’s a no-win situation that no one needs.