One of the many reasons I became such a big fan of Google Plus, a Photographer’s Networking Mecca

Google+ Now Preserves Copyright Metadata

One month ago we reported that all metadata, including copyright metadata, was deleted from the images displayed on Google+ pages. We discovered during our investigation that Google+ did preserve the metadata on its servers, but by removing it from the displayed images it rendered them as orphan works. The only official comment that we know Google made about this came from the Google+ Photo Community Manager, Brian Rose, who said that displayed images were “optimised for consumption”, i.e. metadata is deleted. As far as we know Google made no other announcement about this, but yesterday we heard from another photographer that things seemed to have changed recently.

We again uploaded the test image created by Controlled Vocabulary to our ArtistsRights Google+ page. As before we used Jeffrey Friedl’s Online Metadata Viewer to check the resulting images displayed on our Google+ page.


You will see that the most recent image in the ArtistsRights Google+ stream displays the test image we uploaded on 15 December 2011. We checked the image as displayed in that post with Jeffrey’s Metadata viewer and found that the copyright metadata was still present. By copyright metadata we mean the ‘Author’ and ‘Copyright Notice’ fields from the ‘File Info’ ‘Description’ tab as displayed in Photoshop CS5.

To view a larger version of the image we clicked it and it was displayed on a black background. Checking again with Jeffrey’s Metadata viewer we found that that version of the image still retained the copyright metadata.

However, if your browser window is large enough (full screen say) that the entire image can be displayed on the black background without it having to be resized, all the metadata will be present in the displayed image.

Even better, these changes are retrospective. Any images with embedded metadata uploaded to Google+ prior to this change now retain the copyright metadata in the displayed image when previously they did not.

The only criticism we have left is with regard to the ‘Photo Details’ option. Open that window and it still assumes the photograph was taken by the individual who uploaded it. In the case of the test image we uploaded, it says ‘taken by ArtistsRights’ (which is incorrect) and then, correctly, it takes the date from the creation date in the embedded metadata. But we didn’t ‘take’ that photograph, Controlled Vocabulary created it. The correct solution would be for the ‘Photo Details’ to say –

created by ‘author’  [where author = the content of the ‘author’ field in the metadata]

However, this is a big step forward for Google+ and they should be congratulated for making the changes they did.

We challenge Facebook, Twitter, Twitpic, et al to do the same.


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