Heavyweights team up on photo data standard

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Some of the largest names in photography hardware and software are teaming up on a new project to create a standard image metadata system.

The Metadata Working Group has put forward the first specifications for the embedding of metadata within image files. Founding members include Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, Sony, Canon and Nokia.

The goal of the programme is to create a standard system for the data, which can then be used by image editing and indexing software to organise and classify individual photos based on criteria such as location, date and subject.

The metadata system is of special importance to professional photographers whose photo archives will often include thousands of images.

However, as family photo albums continue to go digital, metadata will also become increasingly important to the home consumer market.

"Lack of metadata interoperability has led to significant frustration for consumer and professional photographers, and our companies have spent considerable resources trying to deal with the problem," said Josh Weisberg, director of Microsoft's Rich Media Group and chairman of the Metadata Working Group.

"Getting these industry leaders together to rally around metadata interoperability is a real turning point, one that we believe will result in technology that is easier for photographers to use."

The first specifications offer guidelines to companies on how to store and read metadata, as well as methods for dealing with overlapping standards.
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