Image that I don't own suddenly appears on my MP3 file

Using Windows 7 Professional.
Audacity 2.2.0

Although this may be a Windows problem I’m writing to ask for help here as I suspect I have a hundred times more chance of getting a sensible reply here than getting any support from Microsoft.

I am in the process of putting together some audio book files containing recorded music and voiceover. They are for commercial use. All the audio files I have used are mine and were created by me.

I saved one of the finished files as an MP3. While I was working on it, for some bizarre reason my computer got the bright idea of heading off to the internet, finding an image that doesn’t belong to me and is somebody’s else’s copyright, importing it, and embedding it in my MP3 file. It then had the bright idea of sticking this image on another file that I had previous recorded.

I cannot fathom how or why this has happened. I didn’t ask it to do this. It didn’t tell me it was going to do it. It didn’t give me the option of preventing it from doing it. And now that it’s done it I can’t find out how to get rid of the image. I have my own copyright image files that I have to use with these MP3 files.

Anybody out there know (1) How to get rid of the image altogether and (2) How to prevent the idiot from doing this again with any more of my files.


Firstly, I’d recommend not using media players that do this sort of thing. Windows Media Player and iTunes are notorious for being “too clever” and messing with the music files in one way or another. Personally, when on Windows I use foobar2000 as my music player, and VLC for all other media. Foobar2000 is a relatively lightweight audio player that supports a massive range of audio formats. It also has pretty good tagging support, the ability to transcode from one format to another, and a few other useful features, but it does not try to take over your computer or your music collection.

Regarding the problem:

There are two ways that media players can attach images to audio files.

The least obtrusive way is that the media player simply associates a particular image with an audio file in its database. In this case, the audio file is not modified in any way, the media player is simply picking an image file that it thinks goes with the media file. Media players that do this sometimes get it wrong and associate an unrelated image with the audio file. There is probably nothing you can do about this unless you can find how to turn this feature off (refer to the media player manual, if it has one). On the other hand, even when “wrong” it does not really do any harm because the media file has not been modified by the player.

The other way, and this is more serious for content creators, is that a media player may change the audio file’s metadata and embed the image within the file. The modified metadata will then be distributed with your audio content until you either fix the metadata or convert the audio to a form that does not support metadata (such as audio CD). To deal with this kind of issue, use one of the good, free tagging programs (such as MP3Tag or EasyTAG) to verify and if necessary correct the metadata.