Adobe and other companies have established a symbol that can be attached to content alongside metadata, establishing its provenance, including whether it was made with AI tools.
The symbol, which Adobe calls an “icon of transparency,” can be added via Adobe’s photo and video editing platforms like Photoshop or Premiere and eventually Microsoft’s Bing Image Generator. It will be added to the metadata of images, videos, and PDFs to announce who owns and created the data. When viewers look at a photo online, they can hover over the mark, and it will open a dropdown that includes information about its ownership, the AI tool used to make it, and other details about the media’s production.
Adobe developed the symbol with other companies as one of the many initiatives of the Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity (C2PA), a group founded in 2019 that looks to create technical standards to certify the source and provenance of content. (It uses the initials “CR,” which confusingly stands for content CRedentials, to avoid being confused with the icon for Creative Commons.) Other members of the C2PA include Arm, Intel, Microsoft, and Truepic. C2PA owns the trademark for the symbol.
Andy Parsons, senior director of Adobe’s Content Authenticity Initiative, tells The Verge that the symbol acts as a “nutrition label” of sorts, telling people the provenance of the media. The presence of the symbol is meant to encourage the tagging of AI-generated data, as Parsons said it creates more transparency into how content was created.
“Before, there was not a single mark that everybody had aligned on using, and a big part of our efforts over the past year or so has been to get people together from different organizations to test a symbol,” Parsons says.
While the small symbol is visible in the image, the information and the symbol are also embedded in the metadata, so it will not be Photoshopped out.
Adobe says other companies in the C2PA will begin implementing the new symbol in the coming months. Microsoft, for example, has been using a custom digital watermark in content created with its Bing Image Generator but will be using the new icon soon. Companies and users are not required to adopt the symbol.
Adobe first announced its Content Credentials feature in 2021 and made it available in the Photoshop beta last year. Content Credentials are also available on Firefly, the company’s generative AI art model, and are automatically added to art created with Firefly.
The rise of AI-generated content has renewed focus on a standard method of showing authenticity. In particular, concern over deepfaked images and videos has prompted politicians and regulators to draft proposals preventing misleading AI-generated content from being used in campaign ads. Several tech companies, including Adobe, signed a non-binding agreement with the White House to develop watermarking systems to identify AI-generated data.
Google came out with its own content marker called SynthID, which identifies something as AI-generated within the metadata. Digimarc also released a digital watermark that includes copyright information to track the use of data in AI training sets.
Update October 16, 2023, 4:43 PM ET: Added date of original founding of the C2PA.