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fixing the copyright metadata in mp4

Posted on 2013-02-03
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Last Modified: 2013-02-11
I need to edit the copyright field of MP4 videos. Can you recommend a tool that will do this?

Background:

We create videos with a Nikon DSLR in MOV format and edit/produce them in Sony Vegas Pro which renders to WMV. We use either SUPER or AnyVideoConverter to convert the WMV to MP4 for upload to YouTube. Both SUPER and AnyVideoConverter remove the metadata!

Most metadata (e.g. title, artist) can be manually reinserted using xplorer2, windows explorer, or even VLC player. NONE of these, though, allow editing of the copyright field. Perhaps this is a protection feature but in our case it prevents us from reinserting the copyright notice!

Is there a tool or technique that will let this be done?
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Question by:Pete2009
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LVL 62

Expert Comment

by:☠ MASQ ☠
ID: 38849395
You need an MP4 atom editor, if you want a free one try AtomicParsley which is open source and allows you to directly enter data into the cprt atom which holds the Copyright metadata.
http://atomicparsley.sourceforge.net/

I have a feeling that YouTube strips that data when uploaded though so you may want to try a test file to see if the data is still there once YouTube have rinsed it through their filters.
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LVL 51

Expert Comment

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 38849487
Hi Pete,

MetaX can do it:
http://www.danhinsley.com/metax/metax.html

Manual is here:
http://www.danhinsley.com/MetaX%20Help%20PDF.pdf

Here's a screenshot showing the dialog where you can enter the tags, including Copyright:
MetaX enter copyright tagIt is a shareware product that costs $9.95 to register. You may download it for free and try it on up to five files to see if it works for you. It's working fine for me on 64-bit W7. Regards, Joe
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Author Comment

by:Pete2009
ID: 38849540
Hi Masqueraid and Joe,

Two good inputs, thanks. I had not thought about how YouTube might remove metadata. It seems you're absolutely correct - I checked a video we uploaded some time ago and there is no metadata in it.

I am still interested in inserting the metadata in case we distribute it in other ways. For that I prefer the GUI interface MetaX seems to offer over the command line interface - just personal preference.

Joe - one question. The MetaX user manual says that before paying the shareware fee one cannot write tags, only view them. With VLC I observed that the VLC screen let me type in a copyright right notice and click save. It just didn't do anything with it! It would not set the copyright field. Have you actually seen MetaX write something to the copyright field?

Thanks, Pete
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LVL 51

Expert Comment

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 38849564
Pete,
I think that's a situation of the manual not keeping up with the software. Here's the opening screen for the unregistered version:
MetaX unregistered copy screenNote, especially, the middle paragraph. I used the unregistered version and it does, indeed, write to the Copyright field. Of course, not all MP4s are created equal, so you should give the trial copy a spin on five of your files. Regards, Joe
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Author Comment

by:Pete2009
ID: 38849790
I may have some of those "different" mp4 files. Tried using MetaX with the following metatags used (tabs are as in MetaX):

Info tab: title, artist

Video tab: type (chose movie), HR 1080p, producer, copyright

Advanced tab: Comment

All fields with information in them were checked. After writing the tabs, the status box said writing tags was done and a check appeared next to the file name. But only the information from the Info and Advanced tabs was written. The information from the video tab, specifically producer and copyright, was not written to the file.

I welcome further thoughts about how to make this work.

I also sent an email to Dan Hinsley who owns MetaX. Of course if I hear something from Dan I'll post it here.

Pete
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LVL 51

Expert Comment

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 38849804
Pete,
How did you look at what was written to the file? In any case, emailing Dan is what I would have recommended, so you beat me to the punch on that. Looking forward to hearing what he has to say. Regards, Joe
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Author Comment

by:Pete2009
ID: 38849830
Hi Joe,

Well, this is interesting.

When I look at the metadata through any of the following the copyright and producer information I entered through MetaX does not appear:

Windows Explorer properties - detail
Xplorer2 properties - detail
VLC - Tools - Media Information
Windows Media Player - properties

But when I reload the file into MetaX the publisher and copyright information IS there.

So I'm confused and don't know what to make of this.

Pete
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LVL 51

Expert Comment

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 38849887
Pete,
Same results here. When I reported to you earlier that the Copyright field was changed/written, that's because I was looking at it in MetaX. But when I looked at Properties in Total Commander (my file manager) and VLC (64-bit beta), the Copyright field was blank. You should write Dan with this additional info and let's see what he has to say. Regards, Joe
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LVL 62

Assisted Solution

by:☠ MASQ ☠
☠ MASQ ☠ earned 250 total points
ID: 38850056
Interesting.  There are two copyright fields in the MP4 iso standard one for tracks (trak(n).cprt) and one for the file (moov.cprt).  I wonder if MetaX addresses both?  The file Copyright atom (moov.cprt) is a subset of the udta atom and both need editing to save the data.  As you've spotted the Copyright notice is handled differently from other tags and the whole of the metadata file needs to be adjusted when this is set. Won't work if the video file doesn't match the iso standard format either.  What are the movie and audio streams you finally get to with your conversions inside the mp4 container?
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Author Comment

by:Pete2009
ID: 38856139
So things get even more interesting.

First, a report from Dan Hinsley about MetaX. Dan said, "I use a library to read/write the tags, and for copyright it writes the cprt tag.  Do you have a file that shows the copyright info correctly?  Then I could try to figure out where they put the info and see if I can get the library guys to support it."

Dan syas he needs an MP4 file with the copyright and other tags written properly so that he can inspect it to determine which atoms store the information to then check with his library people.

I am unable to produce an MP4 with the tags! I went back to Sony Vegas Pro 9 and tried rendering directly to an MP4 using a few different MP4 profiles it has built in. No luck. Copyright and artist information I insert in Sony Vegas Pro does not get written to an MP4. (It does get written to a WMV.) If I use SUPER or AnyVideoConverter to transcode a WMV to MP4 it removes the meta information.

Would you have a suggestion where to find an MP4 with correct tags? Otherwise it seems I'm back to square one. I may have to decide whether to look into the atom editor masqueraid first mentioned. This seems a bit deeper and more involved than I wanted to go. Perhaps it is simpler than it sounds?

Pete
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LVL 51

Assisted Solution

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
Joe Winograd, EE MVE earned 250 total points
ID: 38856353
Pete,
I checked all of my MP4 files...not one of them has anything in the Copyright field (as displayed by my file manager via Properties>Details). I then downloaded a number of MP4 files from the web that I expected would have copyright info...movie trailers and sports films. Once again, my file manager showed nothing in the Copyright field for any of them. Strange stuff! Regards, Joe
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Accepted Solution

by:
Pete2009 earned 0 total points
ID: 38857401
I downloaded AtomicParsley and was able to use it to write to a tag - specifically the cprt copyright tag. Examining the file with AtomicParsley I see the tag was written. But from Windows Explorer, etc. the "copyright" field is still blank.

I suppose this is the same dilemma Dan Hinsley described. I don't know the atom or atoms to write to in order to have the copyright information show up.

I guess I'm going to abandon the hope of writing to this copyright field. I'll just put the copyright notice into the comments field even though a user can easily remove it.

While I did not get an answer you both helped me explore the issue and alternatives. I'll leave this open for another day or so in case someone has additional ideas. Then I'll look into whether I can close a question without accepting a solution and still award some points.

Pete
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LVL 51

Expert Comment

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 38857454
Seems they really don't want folks using the Copyright field...don't know why it's so difficult to populate.

> I'll look into whether I can close a question without accepting a solution and still award some points.

I did this recently on a question I asked. The way to do it is accept one of your own posts as the answer (probably the one above...ID 38857401). It asked why I was accepting my own answer, which I explained briefly, and I also stated that I was awarding points to two other experts whose comments I found very helpful. I then accepted the experts' answers as assisted solutions. It awarded zero points to me when I accepted my own answer, so the full 500 points was available to be allocated to the other experts.

I appreciate your efforts to award the points. Regards, Joe
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LVL 51

Expert Comment

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 38861379
Pete,
That's an excellent description of the situation...thanks for taking the time to write it up...I learned a lot on this one! And thanks, too, for awarding the points...much appreciated! Regards, Joe
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LVL 62

Expert Comment

by:☠ MASQ ☠
ID: 38861784
Thanks,
Looking at the AtomicParsley (AP) guides, although you can write to cprt there is this "padding" problem which means with movie files all the other atoms data need to be adjusted.  AP does write cprt atoms to audio mp4 successfully.

The only consistent mp4 video cprt writing I've found listed is a commercial company who claim they can add the metadata for you.
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Author Comment

by:Pete2009
ID: 38861873
Hi Masqueraid,

Thanks for that further searching. The padding issue probably helps explain why it is so difficult on a video mp4. The possibility of a commercial company doing it may be of interest in the future although for the videos we're producing now it isn't worth it.

I may consider running a WMV file that includes the copyright directly from our website as opposed to the MP4 through YouTube. The added exposure of offering MP4 through our YouTube site is a powerful incentive to use YouTube, though, and forego the built-in copyright notice.
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Author Closing Comment

by:Pete2009
ID: 38875484
I ultimately concluded there is no straightforward way to write content into the copyright field / atom of an MP4 such that it will appear in tools such as Windows Media Player, VLC, or Windows Explorer. This field is treated differently than most other fields. I was able to do this only with the help, though, of the guidance and tool suggestions from the two experts.

I am awarding points since both experts in their own ways helped me explore this issue, analyze options, compare to other MP4s, and come to the conclusion.

MetaX seems like a useful tool for managing tags in a library.

AtomicParsley seems a great tool to use in scripts for making large numbers of changes, for adding new fields/atoms, or perhaps for one-off edits although the command line interface is a bit awkward for that.

Users should also realize that many common fields (but NOT copyright) may be modified within Windows Explorer or other file managers or various media players by viewing the properties and then modifying and saving changes.
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