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Digital Watermarking - Part I

Digital watermarks provide copyright protection for intellectual property in a digital world and help us determine the authenticity of a copyrighted work
Digital watermarking is a process of establishing a direct connection between the users of a work in digital file format and the copyright owner(s) of that work. The work in digital format refers to an image, animated GIF, PDF, audio or video file. The watermark data is physically embedded in the file forming an integral part of the whole. Being solid enough not to be affected by normal changes to the file, the digital watermark is unobtrusive, invisible and noiseless. The human eye cannot see it, while the ear cannot hear it. The existence of the bits representing the digital fingerprint can only be confirmed by the use of complex mathematical calculations.
Digital watermarks play a double role. On the one hand, they help us determine the authenticity of digital files being sold, bought, listened to, read, watched or reviewed. On the other hand, digital watermarks provide copyright protection for intellectual property in a digital world and give users access to publicly available information about the copyrighted work (detailed description, copyright notice, social media links...). This metadata is entered by the copyright holder himself or another individual or legal entity authorized by the author of that work.
Here are some typical examples. You have a high resolution digital image and want to sell it. The website supposed to put it up for sale, however, converts the image and knocks it down in such a way that there is a noticeable drop in quality. The buyer will know nothing about it and think that he is buying the original image, which, in fact, it is not. If the buyer wants to check if the original author has actually made the photo available for people to buy it in its highest resolution, how will he do it? Should the buyer take the website's word for it? No, that's not enough, there are too many examples proving otherwise. Or maybe anyone who wants to buy or use a picture or photo should contact the author asking, "Excuse me, is this really your original high resolution image"? Of course, this is not practically feasible either.
A more conspicuous example is the digital video files. The difference between an authentic video and its derivates available on streaming video platforms is often so big that the viewer cannot know whether the video was published with or without the author's knowledge. Sometimes even the record labels or distributors themselves reach out for dubious video material and publish it without even asking the author's opinion. Consumers do not know anything about it, they just watch videos as they are available for watching, but poor audio or unclear, pixel-like patches made upon video parts, as well as significant quality differences between videos posted by different users will certainly be perceived. The shots range from really good ones to those one couldn't believe how sloppy they can be. The logical question is, how are you supposed to tell which one is the right one? That is, is there a reliable way to recognizably distinguish the originally recorded video content?
The distribution of digital audio tracks is a story in itself. A musician records a song in the studio and wants to release it in its original, lossless audio format. He sends the track over to a distributor, who is then supposed to forward it to online music stores and streaming media services as he received it. And this is how it usually goes. Leaving the client misinformed, the distributor compresses the song to an .mp3 format at 128Kbps (for whatever the reason is) and the quality drops consequently. That's not the end of it - the song gets converted from one format to another several times more (eg. from .mp3 to .flac, then again to .mp3, but at 320kbps, or back to .wav). Listening to the song, the author notices the drop in quality when compared to the original recording, which inevitably leads to suspecting that the song has been unnecessarily degraded. And now, if somebody wants to check it out, how is he going to do it?
* Audio 1 - Watermarked file available to download HERE
* Audio 2 - Non-watermarked file available to download HERE
The two audio files above do not seem to make a significant difference when you just play them. This is essential for the algorithm we have developed - the files are digitally watermarked in such a way that the watermark is unobtrusive, invisible and noiseless. Feel free to download both tracks and perform two separate audio watermark tests in order to make sure that the Audio 1 does have a digital fingerprint embedded, while the Audio 2 does not have any.
Watermark detection and analysis can confirm that the digital file available in the online store is identical to the original file recorded in the studio. The files sometimes cannot be identical (eg. if the file is available on a streaming platform, it must be converted to make suitable for online broadcasting), yet the quality must be preserved at the highest possible level. The song must not be degraded somewhere along the way and offered to consumers as such. The digital fingerprint will indicate whether such changes have taken place or not.
Unfortunately, most distributors do not have direct deals with online audio or video platforms. They are only intermediaries or major labels' affiliates instead and multiple signal conversion decreasing the music quality is inevitable. Reckless and barefaced copyright infringement and extremely poor experience we have had with some of them are the main reason that we launched this service.
In order to see how to perform an image watermarking test, please click HERE. Please also visit our step-by-step guide on how to add a watermark to your image, audio, video, animated GIF or PDF file.
* Files that you stamp by using our watermarking tools are available for further distribution to all digital platforms, PDF books and music stores, audio and video streaming services, stock photo sites and online marketplaces.
// Get an unobtrusive, invisible and noiseless digital watermark embedded in your file as its globally unique identifier and copyright protection tool //
QR Code Encoder/Decoder
// Storing data within a barcode image is an easy and secure way to provide a potential customer with accurate information about a digital product //
// Submit a video and convert it to grayscale or black and white video, create an animated GIF image online, trim a video file, extract audio from video, extract video only, extract images, add watermark to video, or create a thumbnail //
// Compare two files online by measuring the similarity and computing the normalized cross-correlation //
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