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 comes 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 (Stock Artists Alliance member survey). 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

PLUS Registry

The PLUS Coalition has developed a Registry that will help users / clients to identify and contact the rights holders. 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.

Find. Search the Registry to find current contact information for related creators, rights holders and institutions.

Be Found. Register for a free listing to allow anyone in the world to easily find and contact you. Register your images and image licenses to allow authorized users to find rights and descriptive metadata using a PLUS ID or image recognition.

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, the Registry will enable integration with API and DAM systems, licensing platforms, and other applications.

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

While your membership and listing in the Registry are free, you may optionally become a PLUS “Supporting Member” by making a contribution. The Registry operates on a non-profit basis, and its development and operation are funded by these voluntary annual contributions from users. As a Supporting Member, you will receive an enhanced Registry listing and business account with access to additional features. You will receive a PLUS Member ID, uniquely identifying your business. You can reserve “Custom IDs” in your business name or slogan. To allow anyone to affordably contribute, the contribution is based on the size of your business. AMI members receive a 40% discount on PLUS Supporting membership.

A complete description of the functions of the Registry is in the About and Help sections of the website. There are also video tutorials to guide you through the registration process. AMI members can download the PLUS Registry FAQ in the Members HUB.

Picture Licensing Universal System (PLUS)

logo-5Picture 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. On November 1, 2006 the PLUS Image Licensing Standards were approved for worldwide use by all industries involved in creating, distributing and using images.

The PLUS Coalition (Picture Licensing Universal System) seeks to balance the needs of image licensors with the interests of visual art rights-holders. The Licensing Metadata Panel Suite is capable of sophisticated functionality. The panels include full licensing vocabularies and allow the input and display of multiple layers of metadata representing multiple media uses associated with a single license.

The PLUS 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

These advances in digital licensing and metadata use will positively affect visual artists' ability to manage and protect their copyrights. It will affect the niche of medical illustration and require our participation and support to help develop the relevant metadata panels for our profession. We encourage all AMI members to stay informed of these changes.

The blog, Illustration Age, features a full-length podcast interview with PLUS CEO, Jeff Sedlik, speaking on image rights management in the digital age. Listen In.

The CCC Beyond the Book podcast series presents PLUS president and CEO Jeff Sedlik‘'s remarks at ASMP‘s “Registration Counts” conference. Watch the video.