Robust, standardized metadata is the key to the long term preservation and use of commercial digital content and all forms of digital content. PLUS is actively engaged in developing metadata standards and systems supporting the use of such standards in managing and licensing digital images. By facilitating the storage of metadata in standardized and universally recognized formats within digital image files, PLUS will enhance the archivability and use of digital images as well as other forms of content in which images are reproduced, transmitted and stored, such as books, magazines, and web sites.
Loss or lack of identification information stored in digital image files often results in the loss of the ability to make use of the content, and places the content and its host at risk. The PLUS standards include failsafe arrangements designed to avoid the loss of metadata associated with digital image files. PLUS and third parties will provide tools facilitating the use of the standards, including web applications accessible on the PLUS site, as well as standalone software and plug-ins designed to embed and read universal PLUS metadata.
PLUS has demonstrated its commitment to building sustainable partnerships with a network of stakeholders, institutions and related standards initiatives. PLUS works with the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) Foundation, Idealliance, and International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC) to ensure interoperability. For example, IPTC's Executive Director sits on the PLUS Advisory Council, and PLUS and IPTC have together worked to integrate the two standards for the benefit of the community. PLUS actively pursues opportunities for such synergy with other organizations of all kinds.
PLUS also works closely with technology firms such as Adobe Systems (A PLUS Charter Sustaining Member) towards the development of standardized, robust and versatile digital content formats designed to protect against metadata loss. PLUS is proactive in establishing relationships with technology firms offering a broad spectrum of applications used in the digital content production and management process, including software for scanning, image manipulation, digital asset management, digital rights management, and business. By refining and developing metadata standards and by catalyzing worldwide integration and use of such standards, PLUS will enable rights holders, licensors, licensees, the public and cultural heritage institutions to better receive and use commercial and other creative content. With standardized and codified metadata embedded in every image, all parties will benefit.
PLUS is also interested in exploring aspects of the image and license registration process and archival databases which lend themselves to distributed processing. Since content may originate from anywhere in the world, and still be candidates for copyright registration and image licensing, there is a possibility of authorizing additional registrars. The DNS system for worldwide managements of the IP address space could serve as a model, with multiple registrars and multiply replicated physical repositories.
PLUS will pursue a mandate to educate all industries and the public on the use of metadata to manage the rights associated with digital image content. In addition to offering freely accessible information on the PLUS web site describing the PLUS standards and offering free access to system components, PLUS will endeavor to increase awareness of image metadata among professionals who make, use and archive images. PLUS will include copyright awareness and education in its efforts, with an emphasis on encouraging copyright registration and respect for rights holders. In addition, PLUS is developing educational materials for distribution to educators at colleges and universities worldwide, and the PLUS Education committee will encourage integration of the PLUS standards in college-level courses related to art, advertising, design, publishing and the media.
PLUS recognizes that to preserve and manage digital content, content owners and distributors must take steps to embed standardized, machine readable metadata prior to public distribution. Towards that goal, the PLUS Coalition membership includes major trade associations representing professional photographers, illustrators and stock photo agencies worldwide. These and other stakeholders participating in PLUS are significantly involved in the PLUS Coalition and have a significant stake in ensuring the continued viability of the content that they create and distribute.
Though based in the United States, the PLUS initiative is international in scope. Many foreign organizations are actively participating, and PLUS is now forming regional "Working Groups." All standards will be translated into twenty-one languages. The entire PLUS system is based upon ID codes allowing use of the system for global commerce.
The PLUS standards were approved on November 1, 2006 after a three year development process. PLUS is now engaged in propagating its standards via member trade associations and directly to industry and the public. This process will continue indefinitely. Once the standards are broadly propagated, PLUS will enter "Maintenance Phase," during which the standards are periodically reviewed and revised by duly diligent and transparent "Standards Review" processes. All the while, PLUS will continue its efforts to educate industry and the public on the use of metadata to manage and preserve digital images.