Google develops an algorithm to automatically removing watermarks from stock photos

Aug. 19, 2017, 3:49 a.m. By: Pranjal Kumar

Google algorithm watermarks

Google has developed an algorithm which can remove watermarks from images in a matter of seconds and that too without any human intervention. Everyone knows that watermark is the traditional way of protecting the image from being copied and used anywhere. This technique is mostly used by the professional photographers to protect their copyrights. But, now it seems like they have to look for another way of protecting the image of copyright.

The researchers have been able to identify a glaring error in this approach and they exploited this to negate the visibility of watermarks altogether. This method has been described in detail in a paper titled On the Effectiveness of Visible Watermarks. This approach takes the advantage of the fact that watermarks, by design, are applied to photos in the exact same manner.

The watermark is the easiest way for the stock photography markets to establish their brand. But, now Google has found the negate that which means that anyone can remove the watermark and use the images. Yes, this can be done manually also. But, manually removing the watermark is an expensive process both in terms of resource and time. Manually wiping watermarks from photos could take several minutes even for Photoshop experts and if you do not know image editing, then you are left with no options. But, the researchers were able to train a model to perform the same task much quicker that too without any human intervention.

The process involves teaching the computer how to accurately identify the repeating watermark structures at first step. Then, fine-tune it how to replace them convincingly.

Tali Dekel said,” If there are similar watermarks embedded in many images then images become the noise and watermark become the signal in the collection. Simple image operations could be used to pull out a rough estimation of the watermark pattern.

This means that Stock photographers have a tough time ahead to protect their images from being used. But, fortunately, the researchers have come up with a more advanced method to protect the image. The solution is known as “Introducing inconsistencies to your watermark patterns”. The researchers told that adding even the slightest modifications (like changing its position, warping its shape) to the watermark makes more difficult for the algorithm to hide the signature marks.

On the Effectiveness of Visible Watermarks: PDF

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