Introduction To The PLUS Image Registry And Its Potential Benefits For DAM Interoperability

What’s up with PLUS and Why you Should Care appeared on the American Society of Picture Professionals (ASPP) site last month and is an introduction to the work of PLUS (Picture Licensing Universal System) and their image registry in particular.  This is an area that anyone involved in DAM (whether users, vendors or consultants) should acquire some understanding of as it seems likely that image and more generalised asset registries will become increasingly important, not only for copyright compliance, but as the basis for interoperability within DAM solutions too:

Keeping track of image rights and licenses is an age-old, and never adequately solved, problem. Eleven years ago, ASPP’s Jane Kinne, photographer Jeff Sedlik (then President of the Advertising Photographers of America), and PictureArts president Jeffrey Burke (then president of PACA) decided to do something about it. The result was the formation of the PLUS Coalition—a global, non-profit organization focused exclusively on making it easier to find, understand and manage image rights. PLUS is a collaboration of publishers, ad agencies, design firms, photographers, stock agencies, photo researchers, illustrators, museums, libraries, archives, universities, and standards bodies all over the world, now spanning over 100 countries.” [Read More]

For me, two of the key points in the article were the answers to these two questions:

With image recognition, why do you need a PLUS ID?  Publishers have ISBNs. Manufacturers have UPC codes. And now picture people have the PLUS ID. More than just helping you find an image, PLUS IDs connect the image to rights information submitted by the person or business who registered the image with PLUS.” [Read More]

and later:

Why not just embed license data in the image?  Even assuming original image metadata survives the review, prepress, and publishing process, an embedded license is only accurate at a particular moment in time. If the license expires or is later amended or extended, any embedded license data is instantly out of date. But when it’s stored outside the image linked by a PLUS ID to current rights information, it can live and change forever. That’s the beauty of the PLUS Registry.” [Read More]

A few months ago, I discussed this subject in a CMSWire article: The Building Blocks Of DAM Interoperability.  As described, universal IDs and and embedded metadata are two of the critical items you need for functional digital asset interoperability (in my opinion).  An asset registry that is external to any given vendor offers a neutral method to retain the key associations between assets and copyright owners.  For photographers, image registries offer copyright protection (especially in an era of orphan works).  For DAM users and the vendors that supply them, that same identifier can be leveraged to enable assets (including metadata) to be more easily transferred between systems.  This is the DNA of the DAM Value Chain starting to form.

There is now some activity on DAM interoperability being sponsored by standards organisation, OASIS.  There is a discussion group forming around the development of a DAM-specific branch of CMIS and my own view is that asset registries should be interoperable with it too.  At present, not enough people in DAM are getting actively involved in making interoperability become a tangible reality, too many are just willing to complain about how there isn’t enough of it happening.  It’s now time for the DAM industry to start to change that – or face having a standard collectively imposed upon us by some other interests which may be somewhat less effective for DAM than it ideally needs to be.  Details about how to subscribe are on the write-up of the conference call held to discuss the formation of the group in October.

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  • Thanks for giving PLUS some extra coverage here, Ralph. We did a webinar a few months back that featured (among others) Jeff Sedlik, the president and CEO of PLUS. That’s available at for anyone who would like to hear what Jeff had to say about the PLUS image registry’s role in protecting copyright. (Particularly as it pertains to orphan works.)

    David Diamond
    Director of Global Marketing
    Picturepark DAM

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