One of the most practical uses of image metadata is to append files with data about their creator—the copyright holder of the image from the moment it’s created. Typically, a lot of folks use the RAW import process to embed image files. In Lightroom, for instance, you can choose to enter specific ownership and copyright details—as well as keywords and other information—as you’re importing image files into the application. And this is a great approach. But did you know there’s another, even more foolproof way to ensure that your copyright information is embedded into your image files at the moment of their creation? It’s true. You can input your copyright information right into your camera. What better way to embody the principle of “when it’s created, it’s copyrighted.”
On many Nikon DSLRs, look for the Copyright Information heading on the camera’s Setup Menu. You can then input your name, as well as a copyright statement. (While you’re inputting metadata, look for the Image Comment heading farther down the Setup Menu, where you can put caption information, location information, or anything else you’d like to include—like your web site or contact information.
Canon DSLR users will find the Copyright Information heading under the Tool menu. There, you can choose to enter the author’s name and/or a statement of copyright ownership via the two menu options available. After editing either of these options, choose Display Copyright Info to see how the information will appear in the EXIF data of your image file. If for any reason you want to delete the copyright information at a later date—maybe before you sell the camera, or perhaps after purchasing someone else’s camera—simply use the Delete Copyright Information option on the bottom of the Copyright Details list.
One bit of advice on the wording of your copyright notice; the © symbol and the word “copyright” are preferable over the (c) approach that is sometimes used, as the latter is not a legal representation of copyright. So if you’re going to the trouble of putting your copyright into the EXIF data of your image files, you might as well do it right.