LATEST NEWS: Google’s “Licensable Images” feature is now live

Learn more about it here

After a successful IPTC Spring Meeting in Athens and IPTC Photo Metadata Conference in Berlin (see Sarah Saunders’ write-up of the event), we’re currently hard at work planning the IPTC Autumn 2018 Meeting. This year’s Autumn meeting and AGM will be held from 15-17 October in Toronto, Canada.

We’re currently considering topics for the agenda and organisations to invite, so we’re inviting suggestions from members and the industry. Recent topics discussed at IPTC Meetings include 360-degree images, rights management, blockchain and the media industry, non-XML news standards such as NinJS and much more. We want to focus on how we can use technology and technical standards to make the news and media industry function more smoothly.

Registration opens in August. We look forward to seeing as many members as possible attending.

If you’re interested in joining IPTC so that you can attend, or if you’re interested in presenting some relevant work to some of the top technical specialists in the media industry, please submit a short abstract of your presentation topic to Brendan Quinn, IPTC Managing Director at mdirector@iptc.org.

Earlier this year, we announced the arrival of Brendan Quinn, the new managing director of the International Press Telecommunications Council.

And while we’re thrilled to welcome Brendan to his new role, we’d be remiss if we didn’t take a moment to honour the man whom he’ll be replacing: Michael Steidl, who is retiring from the IPTC after 15 years.

Michael joined IPTC in the beginning of 2003 after two decades working as a journalist, managing director for news agencies and information technology consultant for news providers.

Upon his arrival, he pledged to do one thing, recalled IPTC Board Chairman Stuart Myles in a tribute at the recent IPTC Spring Meeting 2018.

Michael didn’t want to reinvent the wheel, but to simply continue the good work of the previous director and “add some extra shades of colour” to IPTC’s image as a leader in news industry standards.

Of course, Michael did more than just add a few extra shades. Myles said:

“In fact, I would say that Michael’s contributions to the IPTC is really more equivalent to an entirely new artistic movement – a sort of Renaissance for the organisation – including managing the introduction of entirely new ways of operating the IPTC. When Michael started, there were no teleconferences or video conferences or even development of standards through email lists. There was no internet available during the meetings – which has perhaps been a mixed blessing, since people can keep up with the work back home, but we aren’t always as focussed.”

Klaus Sprick, a former IPTC board member who has been involved with the organisation for nearly 50 years, said the council – and the industry as a whole – owes Michael a debt.

“He is THE key person in IPTC to have moved it forward,” Sprick said. “IPTC is now, thanks to his efforts, the only respected and acknowledged organisation setting standards in international press information technology: media topics, subject codes, metadata, formats.”

Michael has called his time with the IPTC a great experience, adding he was happy to have been involved with the development and launch of nine new standards, the new Media Topic taxonomy and other vocabularies, and in his role in setting up new formats for face-to-face meetings and the creation of new kinds of meetings.

“Being in contact with our membership is also part of the bright side of my IPTC life and I enjoyed spreading the word about IPTC and its work among people knowing only little or nothing about our organisation.”

Prior to joining IPTC, Michael spent 11 years as managing director of Kathpress, where he had also worked as journalist. He has also worked as vice press officer for Medienstelle ED Wien, and as a freelance reporter for ORF.

We wish Michael a very happy retirement and thank him once again for the work he’s done to bring the IPTC to where it is today.

The International Press Telecommunications Council is happy to announce that RightsML, IPTC’s Rights Expression Language for the media industry, has been updated to version 2.0.

RightsML allows publishers and media owners to express rights permissions and obligations based on geographic, time-based, and monetary restrictions.

This version contains major updates: it is now based on W3C’s Open Digital Rights Language (ODRL) version 2.2 which became a W3C recommendation in February 2018.

ODRL allows content providers to “express permission, prohibition, and obligation statements to be associated to content.” RightsML extends on that base to provide standard expressions for geographic and time-based constraints, on a requirement to pay fixed amounts of money for use of the content, 

An example RightsML model which expresses that EPA (Example Press Agency) grants its partners geographic rights to distribute a content item in Germany is as follows:

Policy:
  type: "http://www.w3.org/ns/odrl/2/Set"
  uid: "http://example.com/RightsML/policy/idGeog1"
  profile: "https://iptc.org/std/RightsML/odrl-profile/"
  permission:
    - target: "urn:newsml:example.com:20120101:180106-999-000013"
      assigner: "http://example.com/cv/party/epa"
      assignee:
        type: "http://www.w3.org/ns/odrl/2/PartyCollection"
        uid: "http://example.com/cv/partygroup/epapartners"
      action: "http://www.w3.org/ns/odrl/2/distribute"
      constraint:
      - leftOperand: "http://www.w3.org/ns/odrl/2/spatial"
        operator: "http://www.w3.org/ns/odrl/2/eq"
        rightOperand: "http://cvx.iptc.org/iso3166-1a3/DEU"

This content model can also be expressed in XML or JSON. See the RightsML Simple geographic Example for more information.

More examples are on the RightsML 2.0 Examples page on the IPTC developer site.

IPTC has also created tools to help implementors understand and implement RightsML 2.0, including a generic guideline flow for evaluating ODRL documents and a RightsML policy builder tool.

For more details and help on implementing RightsML within your organisation, please join the IPTC RightsML mailing list. Membership of the group is open to the public. For discussion on developing further versions of the standard, please use the IPTC RightsML-dev list, open to all IPTC members.

… the image business in a changing environment

By Sarah Saunders

The web is a Wild West environment for images, with unauthorised uses on a massive scale, and a perception by many users that copyright is no longer relevant. So what is a Smart Photo in this environment? The IPTC Photo Metadata Conference 2018 addressed the challenges for the photo industry and looked at some of the solutions.

Isabel Doran, Chair of UK image Library association BAPLA kicked off  the conference with some hard facts. The use of images – our images – has created multibillion dollar industries for social media platforms and search engines, while revenues for the creative industry are diminishing in an alarming way. It has long been been said that creators are the last to benefit from use of their work; the reality now is that creators and their agents are in danger of being squeezed out altogether.

Take this real example of image use: An image library licenses an image of a home  interior to a company for use on their website. The image is right-click downloaded from the company’s site, and uploaded to a social media platform. From there it is picked up by a commercial blog which licenses the image to a US real estate newsfeed – without permission. Businesses make money from online advertising, but the image library and photographer receive nothing. The image is not credited and there is no link to the site that licensed the image legitimately, or to the supplier agency, or to the photographer.

Social media platforms encourage sharing and deep linking (where an image is shown through a link back to the social media platform where the image is posted, so is not strictly copied). Many users believe they  can use images found on the web for free in any way they choose. The link to the creator is lost, and infringements, where found, are hard to pursue with social media platforms.

Tracking and enforcement – a challenge

The standard procedure for tracking and enforcement involves upload of images to the site of a service provider, which maintains a ‘registry’ of identified images (often using invisible watermarks) and runs automated matches to images on the web to identify unauthorised uses. After licensed images have been identified, the image provider has to decide how to enforce their rights for unauthorised uses in what can only be called a hostile environment. How can the tracking and copyright enforcement processes be made affordable for challenged image businesses, and who is responsible for the cost?

The Copyright Hub was created by the UK Government and now creates enabling technologies to protect Copyright and encourage easier content licensing in the digital environment. Caroline Boyd from Copyright Hub demonstrated the use of the Hub copyright icon for online images. Using the icon (like this one ) promotes copyright awareness, and the user can click on the icon for more information  on image use and links back to the creator. Creating the icon involves adding a Hub Key to the image metadata. Abbie Enock, CEO of software company Capture and a board member of the Copyright Hub, showed how image management software can incorporate this process seamlessly into the workflow. The cost to the user should be minimal, depending on the software they are using.

Publishers can display the icon on images licensed for their web site, allowing users to find the creator without the involvement of – and risk to – the publisher.

Meanwhile, suppliers are working hard to create tracking and enforcement systems. We heard from Imatag, Copytrack, PIXRAY and Stockfood who produce solutions that include tracking and watermarking, legal enforcement and follow up.

Design follows devices

Images are increasingly viewed on phones and tablets as well as computers. Karl Csoknyay from Keystone-SDA spoke about responsive design and the challenges of designing interfaces for all environments. He argued that it is better to work  from simple to complex, starting with design for the smartphone interface, and offering the same (simple) feature set for all environments.

Smart search engines and smart photos

Use of images in search engines was one of the big topics of the day, with Google running its own workshop as well as appearing in the IPTC afternoon workshop along with the French search engine QWANT.

Image search engines ‘scrape’ images from web sites for use in their image searches and display them in preview sizes. Sharing is encouraged, and original links are soon lost as images pass from one web site to the next.

CEPIC has been in discussion with Google for some time, and some improvements have been made, with general copyright notices more prominently placed, but there is still a way to go. The IPTC conference and Google workshop were useful, with comments from the floor stressing the damage done to photo businesses by use of images in search engines.

Attendees asked if IPTC metadata could be picked up and displayed by search engines. We at IPTC know the technology is possible; so the issue is one of will. Google appears to be taking the issue seriously. By their own admission, it is now in their interest to do so.

Google uses imagery  to direct users to other non-image results, searching through  images rather than for images. Users searching for ‘best Indian restaurant’ for example are more likely to be attracted to click through by sumptuous images than by dry text. Google wants to ‘drive high quality traffic to the web ecosystem’ and visual search plays an important part in that. Their  aim is to operate in a ‘healthy image ecosystem’ which recognises the rights of creators. More dialogue is planned.

Search engines could drive the use of rights metadata

The fact that so few images on the web have embedded metadata (3% have copyright metadata according to a survey by Imatag) is sad but understandable. If search engines were to display the data, there is no doubt that creators and agents would press their software providers and customers to retain the data rather than stripping it, which again would encourage greater uptake. Professional photographers generally supply images with IPTC metadata; to strip or ignore copyright data of this kind is the greatest folly. Google, despite initial scepticism, has agreed to look at the possibilities offered by IPTC data, together with CEPIC and IPTC. That could represent a huge step forward for the industry.

As Isabel Doran pointed out, there is no one single solution which can stand on its own. For creators to benefit from their work, a network of affordable solutions needs to be built up; awareness of copyright needs support from governments and legal systems; social media platforms and search engines need to play their part in upholding rights.

Blueprints for the Smart Photo are out there; the Smart Photo will be easy to use and license, and will discourage freeloaders.  Now’s the time to push for change.