Quick guide to IPTC Photo Metadata and Google Images

Introduction

Google has introduced a new feature of their “image search” mode. When an image is shown, one can click on “Image Credits” and a popup will show the image’s creator, credit line and a copyright notice. It works by reading the corresponding embedded IPTC photo metadata fields from the image file. As of September 2018, only the name of the creator and the credit line is shown. Later in 2018 the copyright notice will be added.

As these fields are defined by the IPTC Photo Metadata Standard, we are taking the opportunity to show you the best way that each metadata field can be filled in based on the definitions in the standard.

What fields to use, and what to put in them 

Google displays three IPTC photo metadata fields, wherever available, for an image shown as search result. This tells the viewer who is the creator and who is the copyright holder of the image and what credit line should be shown next to the image. This information is taken from the IPTC photo metadata embedded in the image file.

Creator

For displaying the creator of the image, the Creator field is read and shown with the label Creator. Google first reads the ISO XMP dc:creator field, and if that is empty, then the IPTC IIM 2:80 Creator field. Your editing tool probably just gives you a single field labelled “creator” so just use that and you won’t have to worry.

By its definition this field contains “the name of the photographer, but in cases where the photographer should not be identified the name of a company or organisation may be appropriate.”

Credit Line

The Credit Line field (XMP photoshop:Credit or IIM 2:110 Credit) is used as “the credit to person(s) and/or organisation(s) required by the supplier of the image to be used when published.” Generally this would be a line of text that the supplier expects users of the image (such as Google Images) to display to users alongside the image. Again, Google first reads the ISO XMP photoshop:credit field, and if that is empty, then the IPTC IIM 2.110 Credit field.

Most tools label this field as “Credit Line” in the editing interface, but some tools call it simply “Credit”.

Copyright Notice

In the next few weeks, Google Images will also display the Copyright Notice field (XMP dc:rights or IIM 2:116 Copyright Notice). So while you’re tidying up your image metadata it makes sense to get this right too. The definition for this field is: “Contains any necessary copyright notice for claiming the intellectual property for artwork or an object in the image and should identify the current owner of the copyright of this work with associated intellectual property rights.” The format can differ according to the relevant copyright legislation of different countries. Again, Google first reads the ISO XMP dc:rights field, and if that is empty, then the IPTC IIM 2.116 Copyright notice field.

The IPTC Photo Metadata Standard covers many other fields as well – if you want to learn more, look at the full IPTC Photo Metadata User Guide.

For photo creators and editors: how to edit the metadata fields

It’s important to understand that IPTC Photo Metadata is actually embedded in the image binary file. You can’t add HTML tags or schema.org markup to add this metadata. But never fear – there are some tools you can use to edit the fields. We maintain a list of tools for editing IPTC Photo Metadata. Here are a few of the major tools we cover:

Each of these tools will allow you to edit fields a slightly different way. Usually there is some kind of “properties panel” or “metadata window” that lets you view and edit all embedded metadata fields.

If you are a tool vendor and you would like your product listed, please contact us.

For developers and site administrators: how to ensure the fields are preserved in images on your site

Your site’s digital asset management system, content management system, image management system or content delivery network may be stripping out embedded metadata fields. Some systems do this with the best of intentions, thinking that it will save a few bytes of bandwidth, but stripping out metadata actually infringes on the copyright holders’ rights and may even be illegal in some countries.

You should use a DAM and CMS that respects and conserves IPTC and XMP embedded metadata, and ensure that any configuration options that strip out metadata are turned off. Also you may need to look at image cropping and manipulation plugins for your CMS – for example the ImageMagick WordPress library retains embedded metadata, but some others strip it out.

For tool makers: how to support IPTC Metadata fields in your software

If you need help supporting IPTC fields in your software, please talk to us at IPTC – perhaps you even want to join IPTC so you can help to create future generations of our standards in the news and media industry.

For all: how to check embedded metadata

To check if IPTC metadata are embedded into an image we suggest to use IPTC’s Get IPTC Photo Metadata site: you can apply the URL of an image published on any website or upload your local image and the IPTC site will show you all embedded metadata. After clicking the green button look for these fields in the shown result:

  • IIM section: Creator (IIM), Credit (IIM) and Copyright Notice (IIM)
  • XMP section: Creator (XMP), Credit Line (XMP), Copyright Notice (XMP)