Metadata provides a way to protect copyright of digital imagery by embedding ownership and contact information directly into digital artwork files.

First issued in 2008, the AMI Metadata Whitepaper has been updated and reissued in 2016. The paper is a call to action for the medical illustration profession to immediately adopt metadata-embedding practices to protect copyright and reduce potential orphaning of digital imagery.

Orphan Works legislation and other proposals come at a time when there is already immense pressure on artists, as copyright holders, to protect their intellectual property due to the digitization and online distribution of their images. Other visual artists organizations are advising their members how to protect their copyright and avoid potential orphaning.

Over 80% of stock and news photographers regularly embed metadata in their image files. In contrast, a recent AMI member survey found that less than 50% of medical illustrators embed metadata in their image files. These statistics are alarming because it means illustrators are at greater risk of infringement, lost revenues, and orphaning.

In short, the white paper calls upon medical/scientific illustrators and animators to:

  1. Embed critical copyright and contact metadata into your digital files
  2. Place a visible copyright mark on your published work and watermark your online portfolios
  3. Sign your work legibly with full name (not initials)
  4. Register your work with the copyright office
  5. Register yourself with online artist registries and keep your contact information up to date

Within the white paper are step-by-step instructions on how to create metadata templates and how to apply contact, copyright, and licensing metadata using the File Info in Adobe Creative Suite, Creative Cloud and Bridge applications.

To learn more about metadata, please visit

Creator applied metadata is not permanent and can be automatically stripped out by "save for web" functions and on upload to file sharing and social media platforms. To check which platforms preserve versus strip metadata, see IPTC Social Media Sites Photo Metadata Test Results 2019

PLUS Registry

The PLUS Coalition has developed a Registry that will help users / clients to identify and contact creators, rights holders and institutions. The Registry aims to minimize the impact of any future orphan works legislation by serving as a resource for a diligent search to locate and contact a creator.

Register for a free listing to allow anyone in the world to find and contact you. Go to and click Create an Account.

The Registry is in Beta and not fully functional. It will be populated in phases. The first phase is listing artists and businesses. Once the Registry is populated with rights holders, PLUS will add the remaining modules supporting registration and search for images and image rights information. Finally, they are working on integration with API and DAM systems, licensing platforms, and other applications.

While your membership and listing in the Registry are free, you may optionally become a Supporting Member”. You will receive a PLUS Member ID, uniquely identifying your business. 

AMI members can download the PLUS Registry FAQ in the Members HUB.

Picture Licensing Glossary

Picture Licensing Universal System (PLUS) is a system designed to simplify and facilitate the communication and management of image rights. It defines licensing language and provides a foundation for building and managing license data. Efforts are being made within the global visual arts industry to standardize licensing models through digital rights management. In 2006 the PLUS Image Licensing Standards were approved for worldwide use by all industries involved in creating, distributing and using images.

The Licensing Metadata Panel Suite includes full licensing vocabularies and allow the input and display of multiple layers of metadata representing multiple media uses associated with a single license.

The system does not standardize fees or pricing. Nor does it create rigid forms or contracts. It is purely a system to define licensing language and provide a foundation for building and managing license data. Browse the Picture Licensing Glossary and learn more about Plus Packs at