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Metadata are critical to photo business

They are critical by providing important information about the image and by describing it properly. IPTC Photo Metadata is made to describe and administrate photographs and to provide the most relevant rights related information. This way metadata makes visual content easily accessible by human language terms or machine readable codes.

IPTC has released its new version of the Photo Metadata Standard (October 2014) - it can be downloaded for free and find more about it on this page.

Major activities

  • Creating standards for photo metadata:
    the IPTC Photo Metadata Standards: IPTC Core and IPTC Extension, see below the Standards section
  • Maintaining a list of software which claims to be compatible with IPTC Photo Metadata standards
  • Providing guidelines and tools to foster a wide and consistent use of IPTC metadata
  • Discussing further improvements of metadata for photo and video with users, software implementers and other standardisation bodies at the annual Photo Metadata Conference
  • Linking photo metadata to metadata for generic and media-type agnostic use


The IPTC developed and maintains these three standards:

IPTC Core - part of the IPTC Photo Metadata Standards

The IPTC Core standard defines the same set of photo metadata fields as used from IIM but its technical implementation is builds on Adobe's XMP technology. This way it provides a maximum in backward compatibility at the level of semantics while it is implemented into latest technology.

Find more on this page >>

IPTC Extension - part of the IPTC Photo Metadata Standards

IPTC Extension is a standard to extend the set of IPTC Core fields. It provides new additional metadata and it refines some of the existing ones.

Find more on this page >>

IIM - Information Interchange Model

In the early 1990ies a subset of IPTC's Information Interchange Model (IIM) standard was adopted to provide metadata fields in digital image files. This set of metadata is widely referred to as "IPTC data", "IPTC fields" or "IPTC header".

What's new in the October 2014 standard

The October 2014 version of the IPTC Photo Metadata Standard extends the Extension schema:

  • Structured property Person Shown in the Image with Details added, includes fields for the name, identifiers, characteristics and a description of a person
  • Structured property Product Shown in the Image added, includes fields for the name, a GTIN identifier and a description of a product
  • Structured property CV-Term About Image added with fields to precisely express a term from a controlled vocabulary, including names in different languages, its identifier and more.
  • Additional properties for the Artwork of Object in the Image structure, like more detailed descriptions of the work, contributions to the work, circa dates of creation and style period. Also rights data have been added.
  • Containers for machine processable Rights Expressions in different languages have been added: one embeds the expression, another one links to an expression as web resource.

IPTC study shows: some social media networks remove rights metadata

The IPTC Photo Metadata Working Group tested about 15 social media networks which support the sharing of photos how they support the persistence of embedded metadata, in particular the fields which are relevant for claiming rights. The results of March 2013 are shown on and provide some hope: a small majority of the networks keeps the metadata but there are also systems which strips it out. Read also the news release about it.

New campaign to support embedded metadata

A campaign has been launched to embed descriptive and rights information in digital media and to retain it during the whole life cycle as outlined by IPTC's Embedded Metadata Manifesto (EMM).
The initiative has been launched by the International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC), the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A's), and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), with the support of trade organisations representing visual arts and photo agencies. It aims to establish the practice of applying descriptions and the copyright status of the content as metadata, and to embed it permanently during the electronic exchange of digital photo, text, audio or video files.
Read more about it >>>
Visit the EMM web site >>>

IPTC-PLUS panels for Adobe Bridge

IPTC and PLUS have released a Photo Metadata Toolkit for Adobe CS3 to CS5.5 products in 2010, an updated Version 4 is available.
You can DOWNLOAD a zip file with these files for free. The full IPTC-PLUS Photo Metadata Toolkit for Adobe CS was updated too. It includes a User Guide for the already built-in IPTC panels of CS5 and adds IPTC Extension and PLUS fields to Adobe Bridge CS3 and CS4 by an easy to use IPTC-PLUS Metadata panel which comes with a comprehensive User Guide too.

Embedded Metdata Manifesto released

The IPTC Photo Metadata Working Group released its Embedded Metadata Manifesto on 20 May 2011. It proposed five principles for how metadata should be embedded and preserved in digital image files.
Read the manifesto - support it and spread the word about it.

Image Metadata Handbook released

The CEPIC/IPTC Image Metadata Handbook has been released at the 5th International Photo Metadata Conference on 20 May 2011 in Istanbul.
The Handbook, commissioned by CEPIC with contributions from the IPTC, is a PDF package of documents which includes Image Metadata Planning - a guide for business users -, papers on the legal framework for metadata use, quick reference charts on the use of IPTC Core and Extension fields, and an interactive metadata workflow planning tool for selecting IPTC fields for use in various stages of a business workflow.
Everbody can download it for free.

IPTC and PLUS welcome Metadata Group Guidelines

The International Press Telecommunications Council and the PLUS Coalition have welcomed the "Guidelines for Handling Image Metadata" for software developers that were recently published by the Metadata Working Group.

The Metadata Working Group is a consortium of leading companies in the digital media industry that was formed in 2006, current members are Adobe, Apple, Canon, Microsoft, Nokia and Sony. The goal of the group is to increase interoperability of digital image metadata across all software, hardware and services.

Read the full statement of the IPTC Photo Metadata Working Group.

Read the news release of 10 October 2008. 

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Embedded Metadata Manifesto

Read it - support it - spread the word about it.

Image Metadata Handbook

The CEPIC/IPTC Image Metadata Handbook with comprehensive guidelines for metadata management by professionals. Download it for free.

Support and discussion

The IPTC moderates two discussion forums on photo metadata:
* Generic issues
* XMP specific technical issues


The latest Photo Metadata Standards document covering IPTC Core and IPTC Extension (July 2014)

Toolkit for Adobe CS

The IPTC-PLUS Photo Metadata Toolkit for Adobe CS products for free!

Download the latest version of the IPTC-PLUS Metadata panel only.