IPTC Frequently Asked Questions

IPTC welcomes inquiries regarding participation, membership and our standards. Please contact us.

About IPTC

What is IPTC?

The International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC) is a consortium of news agencies, media outlets, software vendors and related organisations.

What does IPTC do?

We provide five main benefits to our members and to the industry:

  • We develop, publish and promote technical specifications and guides to encourage the easy, accurate and inexpensive sharing of news;
  • We put on a series of events for members and for the public, to promote IPTC’s work and explore relevant developments in the industry;
  • We develop software to demonstrate and support our standards and help software vendors to implement IPTC standards in their systems;
  • We act as liaisons with other organisations on behalf of the industry; collaborating with companies such as Google and Adobe, and organisations such as ISO, the W3C and the Coalition for Content Provenance and Authority (C2PA)
  • We provide a forum for collaboration and knowledge sharing among our diverse membership.

When and where does IPTC meet?

The organisation holds two member meetings each year, in the Spring and Autumn/Fall. From 2020 to 2022, these events have been held online as Zoom meetings, but we are aiming to hold at least one meeting physically from 2023 onwards.

The three meeting days provide workshop-like sessions, discussions about topics from IPTC’s working areas, and presentations from invited experts.

One of those meetings is also combined with a more formal Annual General Meeting where basic organisational decisions are made.

We also hold regular Working Group meetings and development sessions by video conference, and views and proposals are shared on email discussion groups.

We have recently started a series of IPTC Members-Only Webinars hosting presentations from IPTC Working Groups, member organisations, and invited guests.

Video recordings of past meeting presentations and webinars are available to members at no cost.

We also organise conferences that can be attended by the public, notably the IPTC Photo Metadata Conference which has been held annually for over 15 years.

Who can attend IPTC meetings and discussions?

Generally, only IPTC members can attend Working Group meetings, our Spring and Autumn Member Meetings, and Member Webinars.

However, anyone interested in IPTC’s work can attend a face-to-face meeting or regular conference call sessions as a guest for a limited time. This can help potential members to decide whether IPTC membership is appropriate for them.

If you are interested in attending a Working Group meeting to get a sense of what it is like to be an IPTC member, please contact us.

How does the IPTC conduct its work?

Committees and Working Groups of the IPTC are the backbone of the organisation.

A Committee conducts IPTC’s activities at a more global level and is responsible for the business of the company.
Working Group is team of persons responsible for a specific area of technical matters.
Work Lead is a person who is responsible for a specific area of technical matters.

The hierarchy of responsibilities:

Who pays for the IPTC?

IPTC’s only source of income is membership fees. IPTC standards for news exchange are available at no cost, and we receive no royalties or usage fees.

The motto for IPTC’s standard development work is “made by the news industry, for the news industry.”

Who runs the IPTC?

The members are represented by a Board of Directors and a Chair who hire a Managing Director and contract consultants for specific duties.

Development work is handled by committees and smaller working groups. Some of them focus on general issues, such as the exchange of general news; others on more specific areas such as photography, rights or sports results. The membership votes before a standard is published, although exact voting rights vary by type of membership.

How do I follow the activities of IPTC?

We post our latest news and developments to our website, iptc.org. We also maintain a website specifically for developers, http://dev.iptc.org, for help, best practices, and guidelines regarding the use and implementation of our standards. Also many projects have a presence on our GitHub organisational account at https://github.com/iptc/. The IPTC also makes presentations at major news technology events such as WAN-Ifra Expo and CEPIC Congress. Attending our two main meetings each year, and taking part in our Working Groups’ discussion groups via email are a good way to keep informed.

Members receive a Member Update newsletter by email every 1-2 months.

Non-members can also subscribe to the Friends of IPTC Newsletter where we give updates about recent activity, new standard versions and events that are open to members of the public, such as the IPTC Photo Metadata Conference.

About Participation and Membership

IPTC is a membership organisation. This section answers questions about joining IPTC as a member. If you are interested in joining, please visit our How To Join page, or email office@iptc.org with your questions.

What does it cost to become an IPTC Member?

IPTC’s funding comes solely from membership fees. By becoming a paying member of IPTC, your organisation is making a statement about its contribution to the world of standards in the news and media industries.

Our current annual membership fees are:
  • Voting Member: 4,740 EUR
  • Associate Member: 1,580 EUR
  • Startup Member: Fees agreed with the IPTC Board on a case-by-case basis
  • Individual Member: 200 EUR

If the standards are free, why join IPTC?

Members receive many benefits, including participation in working committees and the ability to request changes or make contributions to the development of standards. Both news and IT professionals use IPTC meetings to network among other delegates and invited guests. Members also have access to the IPTC’s internal working documents and to members-only discussion groups; this is before any changes to standards are made available to the public, which happens only after endorsement by IPTC members. Of course, voting members also have voting privileges.

Finally, being a member of IPTC makes a statement about your business – that it is one of the leaders of the news industry and is committed to the overall well-being of worldwide journalism and effective exchange of information.

Can small companies or sole practitioners join IPTC?

Yes! Even if your company cannot send delegates to IPTC meetings, several affordable membership plans are available to encourage participation by any interested party. Happily, IPTC has found that some of its biggest contributors to standards work come from some of the smallest member organisations.

About Our Standards

Who uses IPTC standards?

They are intended for the business-to-business exchange of news among news agencies, other news providers and news publishers. At least one or two IPTC standards are in use at virtually every newspaper and news web site in the world. However, our most popular standard, the IPTC Photo Metadata Standard, is used by many professional and amateur photographers worldwide —not just photojournalists.

What makes something an “IPTC standard”?

Whether a White Paper, a new standard, or an update to an existing standard, IPTC’s technical publications represent the consensus opinion of more than 50 leading news organisations and system vendors from dozens of countries. Delegates from those industry leaders meet face-to-face and via many teleconferences (some of them weekly) to keep IPTC standards up to date. No other group is engaged in this intense level of news standards development.

Standards are “signed off” by the IPTC Standards Committee, made up of representatives of IPTC Voting Members. No new or updated standard can be published without the majority approval of the IPTC Standards Committee.

How do I obtain IPTC standards?

Although IPTC specifications are available at no cost from the IPTC web site, most users purchase IPTC functionality when they buy commercially available software products, such as photo editing software or news editing systems. The ability to use IPTC standards is always embedded in software.

If you are a software developer looking to implement our technical standards in your software, please look at the pages describing the relevant standard on this site.

How much do IPTC standards cost?

Nothing. Really! As long as users stay within IPTC’s liberal intellectual property agreement, the downloading and use of IPTC standards is free of royalties or other payments. The cost of creating and maintaining the standards is borne 100 percent by IPTC members.

What does an IPTC standard look like in a product?

Well, it doesn’t look like anything. Software developers integrate IPTC standards into their products – often in subtle ways that are not obvious to customers. The best way to see IPTC standards in action is to ask your software suppliers to demonstrate or explain IPTC functionality in their products.

As a vendor, why would I want to implement IPTC standards in my product?

In short: to save money and to improve the ability of your news products to be used by your customers. IPTC does the intensive development necessary to package and label news products in efficient ways that are widely accepted worldwide. For example, our latest G2-Standards packaging uses XML, the lingua franca of the World Wide Web. The content labelling is provided by IPTC NewsCodes, a rich suite of metadata terms that describes news in ways that both humans and computers can understand.

Can I use IPTC standards even if English is not used at my company?

Of course! All IPTC standards are designed to be independent of any specific language. Although our publications are written in English and meetings are conducted in English, every recent standard is usable by any written language that is supported by Unicode.

What are the IPTC Fields for photos?

The IPTC Fields are the IPTC-defined metadata that is commonly used in professional and amateur photography around the world. Although originally intended only for professional photojournalists, IPTC Photo Metadata (the actual name) proved to be a boon for anyone who needs to maintain collections of images. Apparently most people found it easier to say “IPTC Field(s)” than its original name: “IPTC Information Interchange Model.”

What is IPTC 7901 and ANPA 1312?

IPTC maintains several legacy standards that are in wide use around the world. The main formats used by news agencies to send text articles to client newspapers are still IPTC 7901 and its North American cousin ANPA 1312. Both standards have a common origin in old 1970s teleprinter technology, and in fact they are nearly identical. ANPA 1312 is used mainly in the Americas, and IPTC 7901 is used elsewhere. ANPA is the former acronym of the organisation subsequently known as the Newspaper Association of America, and now the News Media Alliance.

What happens if IPTC decides to issue a new standard?

IPTC always tries to make its new standards compatible with previous versions. But sometimes technology changes so dramatically that IPTC must strike out in a new direction, as happened when the World Wide Web exploded in popularity. However, older standards are still published and supported by IPTC, and news system vendors continue to support them. Consider that IPTC 7901 has been in use for over 40 years and is still one of the most common ways for news agencies to send text articles to their clients.