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Creative Commons Metadata and XMP

Xmp tagline.png

(Adobe's website)

XMP (Extensible Metadata Platform) facilitates embedding metadata in files using a subset of RDF. Most notably XMP supports embedding metadata in PDF and many image formats, though it is designed to support nearly any file type.

Creative Commons is considering recommending XMP as the preferred format for embedded metadata, given its support for numerous file formats and the balkanized state of embedded metadata standards. Others are apparently coming to the same conclusion, e.g., Microsoft has announced support for XMP in Vista applications and Jon Udell notes "There’s also good support in .NET Framework 3.0 for reading and writing XMP metadata."


The Creative Commons licensing process offers a XMP template which may be used to mark files within XMP-supporting Adobe applications (step-by-step how-to document).

Adobe applications

Follow these steps:

  1. Make sure you have installed our Creative Commons Panel
  2. Go to http://creativecommons.org/license and select a license
  3. Save the file marked "to mark a PDF or other XMP-supported file, save this template" to your Desktop
  4. In the Adobe application, open the file you wish to license. Then:
    1. Choose File -> File Info
    2. Select "Advanced" on the left side
    3. Click the "Replace" button, and select the XMP file you downloaded from http://creativecommons.org/license
  5. Now, if you select the "Creative Commons" section on the left of the File Info box, you should see the license you have chosen.


  • LaTeX users may use the pdflatex macro.
  • PdfLicenseEditor is a standalone GUI/command line tool for embedding XMP in PDFs.
    • PdfLicenseEditor uses the iText java library, which may be easily incorporated into any Java tool that needs to do XMP embedding.
    • PdfLicenseEditor only supports the 2.5 licenses, not 3.0
  • Windows users may use Cogniview


Video (various)

  • None yet

Other Open Source Implementations

  • XMP Manager A Ruby action for Nautilus which exposes and allows editing of XMP metadata.
  • Raptor - Supposedly this can generate XMP somewhat, and can also parse it, if you grab the rdf/xml out of the <?xmp...> blocks for it. It's GPL / LGPL / Apache2 licensed so compatible with your code.
  • Exempi - Hubert Figuiere's BSD-licensy library to handle XMP, based on Adobe's SDK.

Note on Visible Copyright Notice in PDFs

Even when embedded with XMP metadata a licensed PDF document should include a visible copyright notice as described in HOWTO Tag HTML pages. Sergio Bontempelli, sicuri di sapere, 2007

Note on embedded metadata

This specification conforms with the Nonweb Tagging recommendation.


XMP defines a rights management schema (see section 4.2.5). Creative Commons sets the following properties (example values):

xapRights:CopyrightThis work is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ verify at http://example.com/pdf-metadata.html (Replace URL following 'verify at' with URL containing metadata about the XMP-embedded file.)

xapRights:MarkedFalse if Public Domain, True otherwise.

xapRights:WebStatementhttp://example.com/pdf-metadata.html (Replace with URL containing metadata about the XMP-embedded file.)

We also define a Creative Commons schema http://creativecommons.org/ns# whose common prefix is cc.

It currently has the following property:

licensehttp://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ (Replace with relevant license URL.)

Set license to maintain a direct reference to the license URL.

Developer Challenges

We have setup some XMP developer challenges to encourage the use of XMP and also to do some research as to what is already supported and what we support.

The XMP logo is either a registered trademark or tradmark of the Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries.