Monday, July 1, 2013

JSON, Rights and Linked Data for News: the Latest IPTC Meeting

What is the best way to represent news using JSON? How can publishers convey rights metadata, to make automatic publishing more efficient? What role does linked data play in improving the production and consumption of news?

In June 2013, publishers from around the world gathered at the IPTC face-to-face meeting in Paris - graciously hosted by the AFP - to discuss these and other topics.
News in JSON
JSON is a lightweight format which continues to gain in popularity and tool support. The IPTC has therefore undertaken an effort to define the best way to represent key news properties using this technology. Although we could automatically translate from one of IPTC's existing XML standards into JSON, we believe it is better to create a spec for news properties in a way that results in more "natural" JSON. Find out what we're proposing via my latest News in JSON slides, which discuss the current NINJS draft.

Rights Metadata
There is a lot of interest amongst publishers of all sizes in expressing rights metadata, particularly for photos. Presently, most publishers need to have editors read the notes associated with each photo, to find out if there are any restrictions they should observe. The promise of machine-readable rights metadata is to make this a more efficient process: for example, to be able to automatically detect when an editor needs to decide whether to use a particular piece of content, rather than examining every photo, just in case.

I've been leading an effort within the IPTC to create RightsML specifically to support publishing industry requirements, based on the general-purpose W3C Community Group standard ODRL framework. In March 2013, we organized a one day conference with representatives from publishers, news agencies, photographers trade associations, law firms and standards bodies to examine the question: how can technology help assert and protect the rights of content creators? Find out more about that discussion, including video of the presentations. We are now focused on driving adoption of the RightsML standard, with better documentation and examples.
photographer by liz west
Embedding Rights in Photos
ODRL and hence RightsML has a data model with a well-defined representation in XML. However, many producers of photos would rather have the rights expressed inside the binaries themselves, rather than - or in addition to - having an XML "sidecar". (That's in part because many photo workflows discard any other files and just work with the photos themselves). The challenge is what format to use? Our experiments with trying to embed either RDF or XML within XMP didn't work.So, now we're looking at expressing ODRL in JSON.

Currently, NewsML-G2 is the IPTC's flagship standard for news exchange. It continues to evolve, with a full production release each year (and "developer" releases in between). At this meeting, APA unveiled a new perl library to make it easier to produce G2. And we learnt about a major effort to compare the details of NewsML-G2 production by major providers, with the goal of harmonizing them, to make it easier for our customers.
Harmony Roof Sculpture - Opera Garnier - Palais Opera by ell brown
Linked Data and the Semantic Web
We heard about interesting progress from the BBC on using rNews and the Storyline Ontology to enrich the presentation of news on the web. The AFP's medialab showed innovative news prototypes, also leverage rNews, including one for extracting quotes by politicians on various topics. And we at the AP discussed some of the details behind our Metadata Services offering.

Join Us
As well as updates on standards and practical sharing of industry information, the once-a-year AGM is when the IPTC updates its policies. At the Paris meeting, we decided to add an additional level of membership: now individuals can join the group, making it easier for people to participate in the standards used by the news industry and allowing them to attend these kinds of face-to-face meetings. Contact the IPTC Office for more information.

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