Sounds like a bad news for most stock photos distributors if internet users can easily free image from watermarks. Google’s research division just uncovered vulnerability of watermarks stock photography websites apply on. Watermarks are logo or pattern overlaid on digital images and used by stock photography websites to protect the copyrights of photographs and stock images. On the other side, there is a good news for people who use photo stocks for their needs. Google shows an easy way to remove watermarks using Google Algorithm.
Due to the good news, Google researchers revealed a fact that watermarks have exact same manner by design. So, the first step of the process is identifying repeating image structures of an image collections with watermarks. Next, Google Algorithm create a mask to remove the semi-transparent layer from photos. This way can work since all stock photography websites apply watermarks in the same way on all their images.
The technique better viewed in the video below:
The process of identyfying watermark structures
In that case, Google have warned stock photography websites to make change on their watermarks on different images. As a result, simple change like different opacity in every image is not enough to block Google from detecting same structures of watermarks. Therefore, Google introduces random geometric perturbations to the watermark (as seen in the video). This very subtle warping is done when embedding each image. It is already enough to make the technique of detecting repeating structures difficult to do.
In conclusion, this subtle random warping temporarily becomes the only way to effective watermarks. It is possible to find other ways to add robustness level of an image easier and protect images better. Google researchers hope that this technique of making effective watermarks helpful for photography and stock image comunities.