Online Piracy

An Invisible Watermark? So cool.


In my last article, I discussed the advantages of adding a small watermark or signature to the corner of any image even though it could easily be cropped out. But then what? You are still left with your image being used without permission on a site you may not even be aware of.  So in the best of all possible worlds, what we really want is a watermark that extends over the whole image so that it can’t be cropped out, but at the same time is invisible so the image isn’t ruined, and can also be tracked across the web so we know when and where it is being used without permission.

Enter Digimarc for images, the solution to the stolen image problem.  Think of it as an invisible QR Code that not only can embed information about the creator, but also enables tracking. This image is probably the best way to explain how it works.

Digimarc Digital Watermaking

Not only will it embed all of the copyright information about the image author, but viewers who use the Digimarc software for iPhone or Android, will be directed to all sort of additional information such as websites, videos, audio tracks or purchasing information.  And it doesn’t matter whether the image is on the web or printed.

 This is how Digimarc describes the product:

A digital watermark embedded in your image carries a unique ID and can link to contact information or a website for viewers interested in learning more about you or purchasing your artwork. The watermark stays with your image regardless of the path it travels across the Internet. No matter where your digital image ends up, others will be able to determine your copyright ownership and find you.

My favorite part is the search service.  It continuously crawls millions of sites across the web looking for your unique watermarks and compiles a list of web sites where your images are found. You can then pull down reports or have those reports automatically generated and sent out to you each month. And the best part is that it is relatively inexpensive depending upon which subscriptions plan purchased. There is a free trial however, so there is no reason not to give it a try. You won’t regret it.

If you liked this article, it would be really helpful if you reposted it to your social media.  The Share button on the left will make it easy.  And if you have any questions or comments, please post them below.  Thanks for reading!



About the author

Steve Schlackman

As a photographer and Patent Attorney with a background in marketing, Steve has a unique perspective on art and law. Should you have any questions on Intellectual Property contact him at [email protected] His photography can be seen online at or on display at the Emmanuel Fremin Gallery in New York City.


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