Media Release

IPTC Photo Metadata extended to be more precise and reliable

Release of 25 November 2014

LONDON (England) — IPTC announced today a new version of its Photo Metadata Standard, the most widely used standard to describe photos. It allows users to add precise and reliable data about people, products, locations and artwork shown in an image, and provides an improved and flexible way to express rights associated with a picture. IPTC is the world’s leading standards body for the news media and aims to simplify the distribution of information. The specification of this standard can be downloaded from and is available for free.

“This new version of the IPTC Photo Metadata extends the use of semantic technology for  images and improves their value in news feeds, social media, media asset management systems or as marked-up online photo”, said Michael Steidl, Managing Director of IPTC. “People managing and distributing images can benefit from adding more precise descriptive data. To spread this benefit to as many users as possible IPTC invites the many software vendors already supporting our standard to adopt this new version.”

A key feature of the added metadata is the extended use of globally unique identifiers for things shown by an image. For products GS1 Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) – the most widely used product identifiers in the world – can be used. With an identifier for each traded product, linking product data with corresponding images is highly efficient. For people and locations freely available identifiers provided by systems like WikiData, DBpedia, Freebase or Geonames can be used. For artworks in the image the records in a museum’s publicly available inventory could be referenced. And free-text keywords can be complemented by identified terms from a controlled vocabulary like the IPTC Media Topics or a Getty Foundation vocabulary.

Another new feature is support for different rights expression languages, offering the flexibility important in a multilingual global environment. Machine readable expressions, using e.g. IPTC’s RightsML, can be embedded into the metadata of an image or referenced by a link to a rights document on the web.

The 2014 version of the IPTC Photo Metadata Standard is the first major update since 2008. IPTC is aware that wide implementation of a standard into software is essential to its use, so communication with software vendors and users of this standard plays a key role in encouraging uptake. IPTC organises a Photo Metadata Conference each year to share experience in the practical use of IPTC Photo Metadata and to discuss requirements from photographers and photo libraries with software vendors.

About IPTC:

The IPTC, based in London, brings together the world’s leading news agencies, publishers and industry vendors. It develops and promotes efficient technical standards to improve the management and exchange of information between content providers, intermediaries and consumers. The standards enable easy, cost-effective and rapid innovation and include the Photo Metadata standard, the news exchange formats NewsML-G2, SportsML-G2 and NITF, rNews for marking up online news, the rights expression language RightsML, and NewsCodes taxonomies for categorizing news. Visit the web site or follow @IPTC on Twitter.