LATEST NEWS: IPTC metadata is now shown in Google Images results

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A clear majority of professional photo businesses in Europe and North America find IPTC photo metadata highly relevant to their business. That is the message received by IPTC from its 2019 photo industry supplier survey.

According to survey results, eight out of ten photo supplier companies say that data describing images and supporting searches by users is most relevant. Eight out of ten photographers say that metadata to express ownership and usage rights is most important.

These trends are shown by a survey among photo professionals conducted by IPTC, the maker of the industry standard for embedding descriptive, rights information and administrative metadata into images. The 2019 IPTC Photo Metadata Survey results were made public on 14 August 2019 and can be downloaded from the iptc.org website.

“We know that taking the time to apply photo metadata is an investment by photo businesses, so it’s good to see that they get a return,” said Michael Steidl, lead of IPTC’s Photo Metadata Working Group. “Still, we are pleasantly surprised by the importance that photo businesses give to metadata.”

The survey investigated how and why IPTC photo metadata are used in 2019, and more than 100 supplier companies and photographers from many European countries and the USA participated. Most respondents to the supplier survey are companies active in the stock images business, but IPTC also received responses from companies dealing with news photos, cultural heritage images and video footage. The primary business areas of photographers are stock images and public relations photos.

The main reason for applying descriptions of what is depicted in an image are for supplier companies business needs, primarily to help users or customers to find an image they are looking for. Businesses apply rights and licensing data primarily because of legal requirements, but also to protect their companies revenue streams. Administrative data are added to satisfy customer needs.

For photographers, rights are of critical importance

The use of rights data by photographers is more driven by their own business needs than by legal requirements. As photographers are the first party in the supply chain of images they have a high interest to claim who is the creator and the first copyright owner of each creative work. Applying descriptions of the image is driven by customer needs and business needs of photographers. Why administrative data is applied comes also from their business needs and much less from customer needs compared to supplier companies.

IPTC photo metadata – used since 1995

The IPTC photo metadata standard originated in 1995 when Adobe and other makers of image software adopted the IPTC Information Interchange Model (IIM) standard for the panels with fields describing what an image shows, providing the name of the photographer, stating copyright and usage terms, and sharing instructions and more administrative information. In 2005 IPTC published its first Photo Metadata Standard covering fields used by photo professionals and expressed by the IIM format and the then-new XMP format. The IPTC fields were substantially extended in 2008 and since then the standard has been continuously maintained by IPTC, the global standards body of the news media.

For more information, download the full analysis of supplier survey results as a PDF.