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Controlled Vocabularies for the Media

 IPTC creates and maintains sets of concepts – called controlled vocabularies or taxonomies – to be assigned as metadata values to news objects like text, photographs, graphics, audio and video files and streams. This allows for a consistent coding of news metadata across news providers and over the course of time – that’s the reason why we call them IPTC NewsCodes.

What can NewsCodes be used for?

For the news industry – but also far beyond – it is a strict requirement being able to apply metadata to assert something about the content of a news item. This could be achieved either by free-text human language (e.g. by a headline or a caption) or by codes, NewsCodes. Codes have the advantage that they can be easily shared among users and as each code requires an explicit and comprehensive definition not only the codes but also their semantics can be shared among users. Further NewsCodes are language agnostic, thus the code is the same for describing content in different languages, only the definition of the code should be translated to help with understanding its semantics.

Why are there so many different sets of NewsCodes?

As the world is only one single big object all codes could be put into a single vocabulary. But such a vocabulary cannot be managed in an efficient way. For that reason the IPTC decided to group concepts of the same type in a specific controlled vocabulary. Each vocabulary has a description of its scope.

I just want to tag my content with subjects, which NewsCodes vocabulary should I use?

Since 2010 we have recommended the IPTC MediaTopics vocabulary for subjects. Before then we recommended IPTC Subject Codes.

Can NewsCodes be used free of charge?

Yes, they can. Any NewsCode provided by the IPTC can be used at any stage of a news workflow without any royalty fee. But if one includes IPTC NewsCodes into an application the intellectual property and the copyright of the IPTC must be explicitly included.

How do we view and retrieve NewsCodes?

NewsCodes are available in different formats, find them all on the IPTC Controlled Vocabulary server