Rudy Winston
Rudy Winston

Rudy Winston has over 16 years experience with Canon USA's Pro Products team, and has been responsible during that time for training Canon's staff on new products, creating presentations for customers and dealers, numerous writing projects, and providing technical assistance to professional and amateur photographers.

Adding Copyright information to your images

September 24, 2013

One of the many concerns photographers have in the modern era of digital imaging is that images can be easily copied and used without a shooter’s consent or without appropriate compensation. Many photographers have resorted to adding visible watermarks on digital images, making them far more difficult to copy and effectively use, but at the same time limiting their usefulness even for proofing purposes.

A more non-obtrusive way that images can be identified is if the original photographer’s name and copyright notice can be attached to the EXIF text (information) data that accompanies an image file. If you own a recently introduced Canon EOS digital SLR, this becomes fairly easy — and is the subject of this article.

All current Canon EOS D-SLR cameras and numerous previous models allow the photographer to add specific copyright related information to the camera’s EXIF text data. This information not only is with the original source file (the .CRW RAW file or .JPG file) you shot in-camera, but it will remain with the image if it’s resized or otherwise modified in most image editing programs. A partial list of compatible cameras includes:

Copyright information that can be displayed

Canon EOS SLRs with copyright information capability can put the following information onto the shooting data of every image you take:

  • Owner’s Name: This could be the individual owner of the camera, but is primarily intended for organizations that may have “pools” of camera equipment loaned or issued to photographers. In such a case, the organization could be considered the owner.
  • Author’s Name: This would be where you’d record the name of the photographer who actually took the image(s) in question.
  • Copyright Information: Here is where the statement of copyright would actually be displayed such as, “(c) 2013 John Q. Photographer _ All rights reserved”

Compatible Canon EOS SLRs let you input this info and have it automatically added to the shooting data of each image you take. And it’s easy to edit data (such as update the copyright year when a new year arrives), change it completely (for instance, if you loan your camera to another photographer) or delete it completely, so that no copyright data appears in the shooting data of your pictures.

“Copyright information” in the Set-up Menu

Before going to the Set-up Menu of a compatible EOS camera, make sure its Mode Dial is set for a Creative Zone mode — P, Tv, Av or M. If not, the camera simplifies operation and menu choices and no choices for setting copyright will appear.

The following choices should present themselves, once you highlight Copyright information (usually in the 3rd or 4th Set-up Menu screen) and press the SET button:

  • Display copyright info: This setting shows you the current information for “Author” and “Copyright.” You’ll see the text spelled out, including spacing and any special characters. You should definitely check this Display after setting or changing any in-camera copyright info. Please note that “Camera Owner” is not displayed here – we’ll discuss why in a moment.
  • Enter author’s name: Probably self-explanatory, but this is where you make selections from the lower and uppercase letters, numbers and special characters (including a blank space character) in the lower part of the menu screen. And while using the SET button, input each, one at a time. Your recorded characters appear in an area in the upper part of the menu screen.
  • Enter copyright details: Ditto. The only noteworthy thing here is that even though there are special typographic symbols, there is no official Copyright symbol, “©”. Instead, if you don’t want to spell out the word “copyright,” you can use either parentheses or brackets around a lowercase letter “c”. Here and in the Author’s name area, you can enter up to 63 characters, including blank spaces.
  • Delete copyright information: If you press SET to enter this line item, highlight OK and press SET again, you’ll (predictably!) delete all copyright info from the camera. This includes Owner’s name, Author’s name and Copyright details.

Important: if you ever want or need to shoot images without any copyright info appearing, you’ll need to use this delete function to remove any info from the camera and then shoot your pictures. There is no other separate on/off command for attaching copyright info to image files, if it’s been entered in the Set-up Menu as described immediately above.

Two additional points, perhaps self-explanatory: if you shoot images with copyright information, you can’t remove it from the EXIF shooting data in-camera (you’d need third-party software to edit EXIF text data in your computer). And if you use the Delete copyright information command and shoot files with no copyright info in the shooting data, there’s no way after an image is taken to add it to that image in-camera.

Adding Owner’s Name with EOS Utility software

The name of the Author (the person who presumably took any actual photos) can be added or changed in the Set-up Menu of any compatible Canon EOS camera, but the Owner’s Name can only be filled in via Canon’s EOS Utility software. This software is included free with every Canon EOS camera and can be found on the EOS Solution Disk. EOS Utility is an often overlooked software that manages USB connectivity between an EOS camera and a compatible Macintosh or Windows computer. Updated versions of EOS Utility can be downloaded free of charge at the Canon USA web site or for users outside the US market, at the web site of your region’s Canon distributor.

Again, Owner’s Name can be the individual photographer who owns the camera, but it’s primarily intended for institutions that own multiple cameras and loan them to others, such as schools, large press organizations or companies with large staffs of in-house photographers.

The steps involved to add Owner’s Name to your camera are as follows:

  1. Connect the Canon EOS camera to your Windows or Macintosh computer, using the appropriate A-V/USB cable that came with your camera. Turn the camera on.
  2. EOS Utility software should start up automatically when the computer detects the connected camera. If not, start EOS Utility software by clicking on the EOS Utility icon in the applications area of your computer.
  3. The “Control Camera / Accessories” window should open.
  4. Click on “Camera settings / Remote shooting.” The Camera Control window should now appear on-screen.
  5. Click on the third tab, located in the middle of the window, with the tools icon. This opens up the Set-up Menu area. Click on the Owner’s Name area and a field opens up to allow you to type in the name you desire. Up to 31 characters can be typed into this field. Click OK when you’re done. The Owner’s Name will now be uploaded into the camera via USB and added to the camera’s copyright information.

Please note that the Owner’s Name you’ve entered is not displayed when you check “Copyright Info” using the camera menu’s Display copyright info command, but will be visible if you shoot an image, bring it into a computer and check its shooting data using most image browsing software programs like Canon’s free Digital Photo Professional.

If you like, it’s also possible to enter or change copyright info in the Author and Copyright fields of this EOS Utility window. Just click on the appropriate line and type in the data in the field that will appear on-screen. This is an alternative for entering this data using the camera’s Set-up Menu, as described earlier.

Common sense matters about copyright

The copyright information discussed in this article can be of assistance in identifying a photographer’s images and notifying any potential user that the photographer considers it copyrighted material. However, in most countries or regions, actual legal copyright protection of an image file requires the user to go through a detailed registration process with government authorities. Please be aware that following the steps in this article is not a guarantee of full legal copyright protection, especially if formal copyright registration is not done after an image is taken.

Actual copyright protection of images is a legal matter and subject to the current laws in effect in the region you live or work in or possibly where images are used or displayed. Canon USA and Canon, Inc. obviously cannot provide detailed legal advice about procedure or protection of your work, so by all means, if you need information about this, consult a qualified attorney with knowledge of your nation’s copyright laws.

Finally, copyright information entered into a compatible Canon EOS camera will be applied to the EXIF shooting information of each image you subsequently take, which cannot be altered or removed from the shooting data even with any Canon-supplied software. However, it is possible (using certain third-party software programs) to alter or remove EXIF shooting data. So be aware that it is technically possible for others to intentionally change or delete this copyright information from your image files, if they’re motivated to do so.

Summary

While nothing short of actual registration with government authorities can assure legal copyright protection, the procedures listed in this article provide a bit of comfort to photographers and offer viewers and even editors a means of easily identifying who took a particular image. Providing this information is usually an asset and can be at least a small first step in notifying potential users of digital files that you, the original photographer, consider to be a copyrighted work.

The steps here are easy to follow and, as mentioned, the copyright information to be applied can be updated or changed at any time. And it is possible to delete the information, using the Delete copyright info command in the camera’s set-up menu, if and when you don’t want shooting data to contain the photographer’s name, owner’s name and detailed copyright info.

Copyright information is a feature many EOS users don’t realize they have. But even if you’re not a working professional, it can be a very useful tool to activate and apply to the images you take. With the proliferation of on-line sharing, many users will agree that it is useful to have this information attached to their digital images that many others have the potential to view and even download.

The CDLC contributors are compensated spokespersons and actual users of the Canon products that they promote.

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