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Software applications designed to protect the copyright of photos or graphics are the focus of resources listed in this guide.

Largely, these will involve digital watermarking or image tiling, although other software technologies for protecting photos or other images from theft are appropriate for this guide, as well.

Digital watermarking refers to a marker that is embedded into audio, video, or image data, and generally used to identify authenticity or ownership of the copyright of the product.

Non-digital watermarks are identifying images or patterns in paper that appear in various shades of lightness or darkness when viewed by reflected light, and have been used on postage stamps, paper currency, and other documents to discourage counterfeiting. Traditionally, watermarks existed only on paper, and were created by changing the thickness of the paper, thereby creating a shadow or a lightness in the watermarked paper. Because this was done while the paper will still wet, the mark created by this process was called a watermark.

Like physical watermarks, digital watermarks are often made to be visible only under certain conditions or to otherwise be relatively unobtrusive. Some watermarks can only be viewed by the use of an algorithm, and are used to determine ownership of the copyright in the case of a dispute. Digital watermarks may be applied, not only to images, but to audio, video, 3D models, and text.

The properties of a digital watermark depend on the purpose for which it is used.

One use for digital watermarking is known as source tracking. A watermark is embedded into a digital signal of a movie at each point of distribution. If a copy of the work is found later, then the watermark can be retrieved from the copy and the source may be determined. This can be used to detect the source of illegally copied movies.

An audio watermark is a unique identifier that is embedded into an audio signal to identify ownership of the copyright. If the audio is copied, the watermark data is carried into the copy.

Coded anti-piracy (CAP) is an anti-copyright infringement technology, similar to a watermark, that marks each film print of a motion picture with a distinguishing pattern of dots. There are several types of CAP coding.

Digital on-screen graphics are similar, although no attempt is made to prevent them from being easily seen. Television broadcasters often use these as a means of identifying their channel, usually viewed as a watermark-like logo that is overlayed over a portion of the screen area, generally the lower right. They provide visual station identification, as well as brand recognition.

However, the most common use of watermarking is to mark photos and other graphics that are displayed online for the purpose of discouraging theft. These watermarks may be displayed in various levels of perceptibility, based on user preference.

Another method of protecting photos online from theft is known as image tiling. Using this method, an image may be split or cropped into four or more pieces that are put back together on the website. On the web page, it appears like a single photo, but if a would-be thief tries to save the image (or drag and drop it), they get only a small part of it. Software designed to accomplish this automatically would also be appropriate for this category, as well as any other applications intended to safeguard digital copyrights.



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