Google Has The Algorithm To Remove Watermark From Copyright Images; And The Technique To Prevent It

Trust Google to have both the techniques


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If you’re on social media and have created something on your own, you would know the importance of a watermark to protect your copyright. No one wants to have their images or photos shared online without credits. A watermark is the easiest way to post online without asking for credits.

Visible watermarks are those logos and patterns that are often overlaid on digital images provided by stock photography websites. These mark the image owners while allowing viewers to perceive the underlying content so that they could license the images that fit their needs.

However, it has been seen in the past that watermarks are relatively easy to remove by using simple tools like Photoshop or such. Now, Google researchers have developed an AI algorithm that removes watermarks from photos cleanly and with ease.

This essentially means that even photos with repeating watermarks are not enough to protect your photos and may cause copyright violations. “From our experiments much of the world’s stock imagery is currently susceptible to this circumvention. As such, in our paper we also propose ways to make visible watermarks more robust to such manipulations,” Google’s blog post read.

A computer algorithm can get past this protection and remove watermarks automatically, giving users unobstructed access to the clean images the watermarks are intended to protect.

How to make effective watermarks?

Now, considering that AI can easily identify watermarks because of patterns, it can easily remove watermarks from those images. The monotony of watermarks has to be broken to actually make the image safer.

Introducing random geometric perturbations to the watermark – warping it when embedding it in each image – improves its robustness. Interestingly, very subtle warping is already enough to generate watermarks that this technique cannot fully defeat.

The warped image is similar to the original image but when watermarks are attempted to be removed, they leave irregular marks around the original image. This happens because the algorithm is not able to analyse the exact lines to be warped and removed, hence leaving stains here and there.

All in all, Google suggest that watermarks be made random so that algorithms are not able to identify them well. Introducing different curves and smaller images in your main image can help you put a stronger watermark on your image.

This is extremely important for artists and photographers who want to be recognised and have worked hard for it. So, the next time you’re uploading a stock image, make sure you introduce random warps in your watermark to avoid plagiarism of your work.

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1 Comment
  1. Ivan says

    Shutterstock changed their algorithm to withstand these automated attacks. If you look closer every photo has a bit different watermark. Just a couple of pixels.

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