Side by side, a game-rendered and a realistic-looking "deepfake" version of Cristiano Ronaldo. Created by Chris Ume to demonstrate the capabilities of modern generative media models
Side by side: a game-rendered and a realistic-looking “deepfake” version of Cristiano Ronaldo. Created by Chris Ume to demonstrate the capabilities of modern generative media models. As shown by Henrik de Gyor in his session on synthetic media.

Where else can you hear about the difficulties of examining photo metadata in NFTs, see a lifelike image of a human being generated from pure data before your eyes, see how Wikidata can be used to take semantic fingerprints of news articles, and discover that an hour is nowhere near long enough to discuss simplifying machine-readable rights? Nowhere but the IPTC Meeting, of course! And this year’s Spring Meeting was the venue for all of this and much more.

We held the meeting virtually from Monday May 16 to Wednesday May 18th, and attending were over 70 people from at least 45 organisations across more than 20 countries.

Along with our usual Working Group updates and committee meetings, we invited speakers from several fascinating startups, services and projects at member companies. Here’s a quick summary of their sessions:

  • We heard from Kairntech who are working on a classification system based on extracting entities from news stories and building a “semantic fingerprint” which can be used for cross-language classification, search and content enhancement
  • The New York Times’ R&D Lab presented PaperTrail, a project to enhance the quality of the Times’ print archive through the use of machine learning to improve on basic OCR techniques (they’re looking for collaborators, more info coming soon!)
  • Bria.ai showed us how an API can be used to enhance and create images and videos through the use of a custom GAN model trained in a “responsible AI” method
  • Margaret Warren talked us through her efforts in creating and selling an NFT, looking at the process view the perspective of a photo metadata expert
  • Consultant and author Henrik de Gyor talked us through the latest in synthetic media, which will be helpful in helping us to finalise our Digital Source Type vocabulary for synthetic media
  • Laurent Le Meur from EDRLab presented his project’s recommendation on a Text and Data Mining Reservation Protocol, which can be used by publishers to restrict the rights of data miners in scraping any content for the purpose of analysis or building a model
  • We heard from Dominic Young of Axate on his approach to offer pay-as-you-go payment options on paywalled news sites based on a simple pre-paid wallet mechanism.

We also had many announcements and discussions around IPTC standards, many of which we will be revealing in the coming months. One notable update is that the Standards Committee approved ninjs version 1.4 which we will release soon.

Thanks to all the IPTC members, Working Group leads, committee members and guests who made this member meeting one to remember.

Anyone who has managed photo metadata can attest that it is often difficult to know which metadata properties to use for different purposes. It is especially tricky to know how to tag consistently across different metadata standards. For example, how should a copyright notice be expressed in Exif, IPTC Photo Metadata and schema.org metadata?

For software vendors wanting to build accurate mapping into their tools to make life easier for their customers, it’s no easier. For a while, a document created by a consortium of vendors known as the Metadata Working Group solved some of the problems, but the MWG Guidelines are no longer available online.

To solve this problem, the IPTC collaborated with Exif experts at CIPA, the camera products industry group that maintains the Exif standard. We also spoke with the team behind schema.org. Based on these conversations, we created a document that describes how to map properties between these formats. The aim is to remove any ambiguity regarding which IPTC Photo Metadata properties are semantically equivalent to Exif tags and schema.org properties.

Generally, Exif tags and IPTC Photo Metadata properties represent different things: Exif mainly represents the technical data around capturing an image, while IPTC focuses on describing the image and its administrative and rights metadata, and schema.org covers expressing metadata in a web page. However, quite a few properties are shared by all standards, such as who is the Creator of the image, the free-text description of what the image shows, or the date when the image was taken. Therefore it is highly recommended to have the same value in the corresponding fields of the different standards.

The IPTC Photo Metadata Mapping Guidelines outlines the 17 IPTC Photo Metadata Standard properties with corresponding fields in Exif and/or Schema.org. Further short textual notes help to implement these mappings correctly.

The intended audience of the document is those managing the use of photo metadata in businesses and the makers of software that handles photo metadata.The IPTC Photo Metadata Mapping Guidelines document can be accessed on the iptc.org website. We encourage IPTC members to provide feedback through the usual channels, and non-members to respond with feedback and questions on the public IPTC Photo Metadata email discussion group.

A screenshot of a browser showing Bill Kasdorf's latest column. Follow the link to read the full article.
Bill Kasdorf’s article on PublishersWeekly.com discusses IPTC Photo Metadata Standard’s new properties, Alt Text (Accessibility) and Extended Description (Acessibility).

Bill Kasdorf, IPTC Individual Member, has written about IPTC Photo Metadata in his latest column for Publishers Weekly.

In the article, a double-page spread in the printed version of the 11/22/2021 issue of Publishers Weekly and an extended article online, Bill references Caroline Desrosiers of IPTC Startup member Scribely saying “if publications are born accessible, then their images should be born accessible, as well.”

The article describes how the new Alt Text (Accessibility) and Extended Description (Accessibility) properties in IPTC Photo Metadata can be used to make EPUBs more accessible.

Bill goes on to provide an example, supplied by Caroline Desrosiers, of how an image’s caption, alt text and extended description fulfil very different purposes, and mentions that it’s perfectly fine to leave alt text blank in some cases! For more details, read the article here.

We had a great IPTC Photo Metadata Conference last week, focussing on accessibility, interoperability and authenticity.

Videos of all sessions are embedded in this post. Videos are also available from the event page. All videos have subtitles available – just click the “CC” button in the YouTube toolbar at the bottom of each video.

We started off with an introduction from IPTC Managing Director, Brendan Quinn:

Accessibility and “Born Accessible Content”

We then went into the first session, where David Riecks, co-lead of the IPTC Photo Metadata Working Group, introduced the new accessibility properties in the IPTC Photo Metadata Standard:

Next up was Sam Joehl of Level Access, who gave a fascinating presentation showing how a screen-reader application deals with images on the web, showcasing the need for good alternative text and image descriptions:

Next was a panel moderated by Caroline Desrosiers of Scribely, entitled Making Images Accessible Across Industries: How Does it Work and What’s Next? Speakers included James Tiller, Cailin Meyer and Rebecca Snyder of the Smithsonian Institution, Rachel Comerford from Macmillan Learning and Jon Sasala from Morey Creative Studios. The subject matter ranged from Smithsonian’s image description guidelines for scientific research to Macmillan’s “Born Accessible Content” initiative to the problems with “overlay” software that attempts to write alt text automatically. View the session here:

The next panel was moderated by David Riecks, and focused on “Image Accessibility Behind the Scenes: Metadata, DAMs, and Workflows.” Speakers were Andrew Kirkpatrick, Director of Accessibility at Adobe, Margaret Warren, founder of ImageSnippets, and Janos Farkas, CEO of CLink Media. This session looked at the implementor’s view and covered issues around user interfaces, ensuring metadata stays with images throughout their lifecycles, and of course asked when the new accessibility properties would be available in Adobe products!

Interoperability with Michael Steidl

Next up we moved on from accessibility to the second theme of the day, Interoperability. Michael Steidl, the other co-lead of the IPTC Photo Metadata Working Group, demonstrated IPTC’s Photo Metadata Interoperability Tests, new tools to allow users and vendors to test the capabilities of image management software, and compare their metadata handling to the IPTC Photo Metadata Standard specification.

Authenticity, CAI and C2PA

The third theme of the day was authenticity. We invited Santiago Lyon, Head of Advocacy and Education for the Adobe-led Content Authenticity Initiative, to speak about the CAI and its sister project, C2PA – the Coalition for Content Authenticity and Provenance. We looked at some details around how C2PA technology will fulfil the requirements of CAI to provide tamper-evident images and videos.

Finally, Brendan gave some final comments and discussed the details that we know so far about next year’s event. He also encouraged everyone to join the Friends of IPTC Newsletter, so that they can be the first to hear about next year’s event!

Photograph depicts a visually disabled person operating a computer using a Braille screenreader.
A visually disabled person using a Braille screenreader. Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

The latest version of the International Press Telecommunications Council IPTC’s Photo Metadata Standard includes two new properties: Alt Text (Accessibility) and Extended Description (Accessibility). These will make it easier for software companies, publishers, and website developers to make websites and electronic publications more accessible.

These new properties will be introduced to the public and discussed in detail at the IPTC Photo Metadata Conference, held online next Thursday, 4th November. Registration to the IPTC Photo Metadata Conference is free and open to all.

“A major milestone in accessibility is realised through the inclusion of embedded alt text and extended descriptions as IPTC metadata for digital images,” said Beth Ziebarth, Director of Access Smithsonian. “All publicly available images can now be made accessible. As with any good inclusive practice, this benefits a range of digital image users and producers. The foresight of the IPTC Photo Metadata Working Group is commendable.”

Web accessibility is mission-critical in our digitally inclusive age. As the number of images added to the web increases every day, the visual gap widens for people using assistive technologies, especially if they are blind. Embedding image descriptions for accessibility into photo metadata promises to be a game-changer, making it possible for software and systems to routinely provide alt text with images, thus giving screen reader software the ability to help readers visualise and listen to image descriptions as they are read out loud. Without accessible descriptions, images are silent for the millions who rely on screen readers to fully access the web.

As Richard Orme, CEO of the DAISY Consortium, has pointed out, “Up to 250 million people with blindness or moderate to severe vision impairment can benefit from image descriptions, plus countless more people with diverse information processing differences such as dyslexia who use text-to-speech technology for reading.”

The year 2020 was pivotal for web accessibility. Many disabled people were at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 but struggled to access the essentials online — everything from healthcare and education to groceries and supplies. Inaccessible websites and applications have always been a barrier; during COVID, they became a threat to the health and safety of a vulnerable population.

Image descriptions are essential for people with visual impairments using assistive technologies and a fundamental requirement of the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), the most widely-used guidelines for web accessibility in the world (W3C Web Accessibility Laws and Policies).

IPTC’s new accessibility properties will make it easier for platforms and software to comply with WCAG requirements and deliver images that are inclusive for everyone. Embedding accessible image descriptions into the photo metadata will make it possible for alt text and extended descriptions to travel wherever the image goes on the web or in books or other documents provided as EPUBs.

If you are interested, there are a few things you can do now:

  • Attend the IPTC Photo Metadata Conference on November 4th to understand more about the new properties and how you can use them.
  • Contact your software providers to tell them about these new properties and emphasise that these features are very important to you. Ask them when they will make the new properties available in their user interface.
  • Contact your web content management software provider to make that case as well.
  • For larger enterprises, think about how you could implement these properties into your organisation’s workflow.

The online IPTC Photo Metadata Standard specification will be updated to the new version on 4 November 2021.

IPTC members and our guests have just finished a very busy 2021 edition of our IPTC Autumn Meeting. Held online over three days, the meeting was a mix of IPTC Working Group presentations, members presenting recent projects, and invited guest speakers on important topics in the news and media world.

Screenshot of Videre AI's video understanding and annotation system
Screenshot of Videre AI’s video understanding platform at IPTC Autumn Meeting

This year we heard member presentations from:

  • Honor Craig-Bennett of the BBC reporting on the Images Digital Asset Management system, based on the Guardian’s open-source GRID system. We heard from Andy Read about this system
  • Heather Edwards from Associated Press spoke about their project to replace their existing rules-based classification system
  • Mark Milstein from Microstocksolutions spoke about a new project he is working on to create “synthetic media” AI-generated images and videos based on textual descriptions and metadata
  • DATAGROUP Consulting Group’s Robert Schmidt-Nia spoke about a project using AWS’s Comprehend text classification service to power a serverless news classification system using IPTC’s Media Topics vocabulary
  • Frameright‘s Marina Ekroos speaking about an EU stars4media project they are working on called “Artificial Intelligence in photojournalism: can it work?”
  • Scott Yates from new Startup Member JournalList spoke about the trust.txt project, letting news providers state their affiliates and official social media channels in a simple way
  • Bruce MacCormack from CBC / Radio Canada spoke about Project Origin, looking at authenticity for video and news media, passing requirements to the C2PA work
  • The BBC‘s Charlie Halford spoke about C2PA, updating members with a deep technical view on how the system is planned to work, as detailed in the recently-released draft specification.

In addition, we heard from guest speakers:

  • Keesiu Wong of Design AI spoke about the Videre AI project, looking at “next-generation video understanding”. He was joined by project partner Javier Picazo from Associate Member Agencia EFE, Spain’s national news agency.
  • Alex Lakatos of Interledger spoke about the distributed payments technology which is used by…
  • Uchi Uchibeke of Coil who use Interledger to implement micropayments which can be implemented on publisher websites by adding one line of HTML.

New standard versions

The Working Group presentations were also packed with content, in particular three new standard versions that were proposed to the Standards Committee:

  • NewsML-G2 v2.30 adds fields for “residrefformat” and “residrefformaturi” to enable publishers to describe the format of a resource ID reference, and makes catalog and catalogRef optional to support publishers who only use URIs for controlled values and therefore have no need for catalogs
  • The News in JSON Working Group’s ninjs v2.0 is a non-backwards-compatible new release which changes the way repeating values are handled, moving from patternProperties fields with arbitrary names such as “body_text” and “body_html” to arrays with fixed names such as “bodies”. The objects within the array elements include properties “role” and “contenttype” which take the place of the arbitrary extension to the “body_” tag.
  • The IPTC Photo Metadata Standard v2021.1 adds new properties to IPTC Core which are intended to be used for accessibility purposes: “Alt Text (Accessibility)” and “Extended Description (Accessibility)”. We have also added and Event Identifier property to align with other metadata ID properties, and modified the Description Writer field to include the writer of the accessibility fields.

New faces

We were very happy to welcome new members Frameright, JournalList, Spotlight Sports Group, Glide Publishing Platform to the meeting.

The Standards Committee was chaired for the first time by new Chair Paul Harman of Bloomberg.

The AGM was the first for new Treasurer, Gerald Innerwinkler of Austria Press Agentur APA.

And we congratulate Philippe Mougin of Agence France-Presse AFP for being voted on to the IPTC Board of Directors, along with the existing Board members who were all re-elected.

It was another great meeting with over 70 representatives from 42 organisations in 17 different countries! We’re hoping that the next IPTC member meeting will be back to face-to-face, and we have provisionally booked Tallinn, Estonia for 16 – 18 May, 2022. We will confirm this in January 2022.

Attendees at IPTC's Photo Metadata Conference 2017 in Berlin.
Attendees at IPTC’s Photo Metadata Conference 2017 in Berlin.

We are proud to announce the upcoming IPTC Photo Metadata Conference. This year’s event will be held online on Thursday 4th November 2021 as a Zoom webinar, free for anyone to attend, whether you are an IPTC member or not.

We are very happy to be hosting speakers from:

  • the Smithsonian Institution, Macmillan Learning, Morey Creative Studios and Level Access speaking about accessibility for images on today’s web
  • Adobe and the Content Authenticity Initiative speaking about content authenticity and provenance and the forthcoming C2PA specifications
  • Michael Steidl from IPTC’s Photo Metadata Working Group introducing IPTC’s new tools to measure and compare the interoperability of photo metadata tools.

The event will run from 1500 to 1900 UTC, which is:

  • 1500 to 1900 in the UK, Ireland and Portugal
  • 1600 to 2000 in Central Europe
  • 1700 to 2100 in Eastern Europe and Israel
  • 1100 to 1500 in US East Coast
  • 0800 to 1200 in US West Coast
  • 2300 to 0300 in China
  • 0200 to 0600 on Australia’s East Coast (sorry about that!)

See more information and register at https://iptc.org/events/photo-metadata-conference-2021/ or simply register using this link.

The webinar will be recorded, and those who register but can’t attend will be sent a link to the video so that they can watch the recording afterwards.

After registering, you will be emailed with a calendar invitation and a Zoom webinar link.

We’re looking forward to seeing you there!

As previously announced, the IPTC are participating in the Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity (C2PA) project to create a specification to tackle online disinformation and misinformation.

Screenshot of the c2pa.org home page.

After months of work by the C2PA Technical Working Group, the first public draft of the specification has been released. In particular, the spec defines how properties from the IPTC Photo Metadata Standard can be included in a C2PA manifest, creating a provenance trail that allows future viewers to validate the authenticity of a claim associated with a media asset (such as the location the photo was taken, the creator’s name or who is the person in a photo).

The full press release from C2PA follows:

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — September 1, 2021 — Today, the Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity (C2PA), a Joint Development Foundation project established to scale trust in online content, released its content provenance specifications – in draft form – for community review and feedback. Driven by a commitment to tackle online disinformation, the C2PA’s technical specifications are designed to be an open standard that will allow publishers, creators and consumers to trace the origin and evolution of a piece of media, including images, videos, audio and documents. 

“C2PA was established to accelerate progress toward the broad adoption of content provenance standards that will enable a future of verifiable integrity in media,” said Andrew Jenks, C2PA Chair. “The release of this draft is an exciting and important milestone, representing a diverse and collaborative effort across industries to protect people from fabricated and manipulated media and drive transparency in the origin and history of content.”

Combatting online content fraud at scale requires transparency and an accessible and open approach that enables consumers to make informed decisions about what has been modified and what has not. The C2PA was launched in February 2021 with founding members Adobe, Arm, BBC, Intel, Microsoft and Truepic with the goal of developing an end-to-end open technical standard to address the rise of disinformation efforts leveraging tools for media fabrication and manipulations. The effort has expanded, bringing in additional members including Twitter, WITNESS, Akamai and Fastly. 

Over the past six months, the C2PA has worked with industry experts and partner organizations, including the Project Origin Alliance and the Content Authenticity Initiative (CAI), to develop a standard for digital provenance that provides platforms with a method to define descriptive metadata, what information is associated with each type of asset, how that information is presented and stored, and how evidence of tampering can be identified. This group of contributors spans a spectrum of industries including social media, news publishing, software technology, semiconductors and more. All have contributed to building these new technical specifications through a process of gathering requirements, considerations of scenarios and technical design.

Following the review period, the C2PA working groups will finalize the 1.0 version of the technical standards and once published, the group will pursue adoption, prototyping and communication through coalition members and other external stakeholders, providing the foundation for a system of verifiable provenance on the internet.

“The power of C2PA’s open standard will rely on its broad adoption by producers and custodians of content, which makes this review phase so critical to the development and finalization of the specifications,” said Jenks. “This is why we are making the draft specification available to the public. We encourage rigorous review and feedback across industries, civil society, academia, and the general public to ensure the C2PA standards reflect the complex nature of this effort.”

The draft specification can be accessed through the C2PA website, and comments will be accepted through a web submission form and GitHub until November 30, 2021.

C2PA is accepting new members. To join, visit https://c2pa.org/membership/.

About C2PA

The Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity (C2PA) is an open, technical standards body addressing the prevalence of misleading information online through the development of technical standards for certifying the source and history (or provenance) of media content. C2PA is a Joint Development Foundation project, formed through an alliance between Adobe, Arm, BBC, Intel, Microsoft and Truepic. For more information, visit c2pa.org.

The IPTC Photo Metadata Standard is widely used by photographers, photo agencies and other photo suppliers around the world. To help photo people use it properly, IPTC has a specification document with a lot of details in document form.

Now, we have released a machine-readable version of the spec that can be consumed directly by software tools.

We call it the IPTC Photo Metadata TechReference. (See below for direct links to the data files.)

The TechReference is a data object containing all the details of the IPTC Photo Metadata technical specifications in the easy-to-use JSON and YAML formats.

The file covers all IPTC properties and structures.

For each property, we specify:

  • the property’s formal name
  • corresponding identifiers in the ISO XMP and the IPTC IIM formats, if applicable;
  • the property’s datatype, such as string, number or a custom property structure like Location; and
  • the property identifier that can be used with ExifTool to read or write the metadata property (such as “XMP-dc:creator” for XMP or “IPTC:Creator” for IIM);
  • … and a few more details.

We have also published rich documentation about the TechReference data object on the IPTC website. The data objects themselves can be downloaded from the IPTC site by both IPTC members and other interested parties.

Today we announce the launch of two new browser extensions for viewing IPTC Photo Metadata on web pages.

The GetPMD tool is one of IPTC’s most popular online resources. With the GetPMD tool, users can view the embedded IPTC metadata of any image on the web, whether it was embedded using either the IPTC IIM or the ISO XMP format. But up to now, users must copy and paste an image’s URL into the tool, or install a browser “bookmarklet”.

To make that a little bit easier, we have created the IPTC Photo Metadata Inspector, a simple browser extension that currently works with the Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox browsers.

With the extension installed, a context menu will appear when you right-click on an image anywhere on the Web, with a menu option, “View IPTC Photo  Metadata.” If you select that option, you will be taken to getpmd.iptc.org where you can see the embedded metadata for that image.

Example of the IPTC Photo Metadata Inspector extension being used on an image on taz.de.

Please note that the Photo Metadata Inspector only works with simple images: it won’t work with embedded video thumbnails or tweets, for example.

The browser extensions are open source, the code is available from the IPTC’s GitHub repository.

Ideas for fixes and new features are welcome.

If you have feedback, please raise an issue on our GitHub repository, post suggestions to the iptc-photometadata@groups.io public discussion list, or contact us via the form on this site.