What Does Content Authenticity in Photos Actually Mean? | The PetaPixel Podcast

This week on The PetaPixel Podcast, Chris Niccolls, Jordan Drake, and Jaron Schneider unwrap the mysteries surrounding the application of content authenticity and how it works with cameras, photos, and online media.

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When the M11-P launched as the first camera to support the Content Authenticity Initiative’s (CAI) C2PA technology, a lot of questions immediately flooded in: what does it do? How does it work? Does it protect copyrights? Is it like cryptocurrency?

The answer is actually surprisingly simple, but the CAI and the companies that have partnered with it have not done the best job of explaining how the technology will actually work for the average photographer and general photography consumer. This has led to a lot of misunderstanding of what the technology is, what it is supposed to do, and how it works.

Content Credentials, what the C2PA standard developed by the CAI embeds on photos, are essentially a “nutrition label” for digital content – showing when a piece of content is created and modified, the CAI tells PetaPixel.

Content Credentials are a free, open-source technology that anyone can incorporate into their own products and platforms.  

Content Credentials include “ingredients” or important information such as the creator’s name, the date an image was created, what tools were used to create an image and any edits that were made along the way. This empowers users to create a digital chain of trust and authenticity. 

While the concept of the CAI predates the proliferation of generative AI, trusting an image as real is becoming more important now that it is much easier to just make images that look like photos in a matter of seconds. In this week’s podcast, the trio discusses how this system works, how it can be put into cameras, how people are intended to interact with it once the photos are out in the world, and the remaining roadblocks the CAI has to navigate to make the C2PA a standard the average person understands.

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