Metadata in digital photographs

I recently handled a case where opposing counsel repeatedly emailed to me photographs purportedly evidencing her client's factual assertions.  Naturally, my clients and I had troubling questions regarding, among other things, (1) whether all of the photographs were taken on the same date at roughly the same time, (2) the source of the photographs, and (3) whether the photographs had been altered.  In the future, there may be a way to obtain that information from the photographs themselves, although, unfortunately, that information may have limited reliability.

A blog called "Out of the Box Lawyering" has a very interesting and useful recent post about a Microsoft program called Photo Info that potentially enables you to obtain from the digital version of a photograph data such as:

  • the time and date the photograph was taken;
  • the model of the camera with which the photograph was taken;
  • technical information that could bear on whether the photograph was altered;
  • other information relating to the "author" of the photo.

Although this tool has interesting ediscovery implications, the fact that the program itself allows people to change or augment that very metadata likely limits the evidentiary value of that metadata.