Data protection issues would prevent Canon from tracking down the owner of the digital SLR reportedly used to capture leaked images of the Harry Potter book, the firm’s UK office has said.

The news comes after The Times newspaper reported that image file Exif data identified a Canon 350D digital SLR as the likely camera behind images of text which appeared on the internet, before official publication of the book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

The Times’ claim, published on 19 July, was based on a conversation with Canon UK?s Product Intelligence Consultant Vic Solomon, after a US-based website suggested that the camera carried a serial number of ?560151117?.

Dubbed a ?picture?s DNA? Exif stands for Exchangeable Image File Format, containing data about the image captured.

Solomon had told The Times that the camera could only be traced if the purchaser had registered the camera when they bought it or if it had been for repair.

Afterwards, Solomon told Amateur Photographer (AP): ?They [The Times] told me the Exif data showed the camera to be a Canon Rebel. I told them that if it was, it would have been sold in either America or Canada and that the equivalent model here was either a 350D or 400D, hence them [the press] calling it a Rebel 350D in some of the articles.?

However, Solomon told us that data protection issues mean Canon would not attempt to track down the camera?s owner.

The book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows carried a strict embargo of 1am BST on Saturday 21 July.

It is unclear whether Bloomsbury Publishing plc plans to take out a copyright claim over the images.

A UK spokesperson for Bloomsbury had yet to make any comment to AP at the time of writing.