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Digital watermarking is the process of embedding copyright information such as author/owner/usage restrictions into the original file. In the paper and ink world, traditional watermarks are visible impressions left on the paper. In the digital world, watermarks are intended to be imperceptible to the end user of the file - the watermark can't leave a big blotch on Image or add a few extra bars to an audio file. A digital watermark is recoverable i.e. if someone checks the copyright it also must be unalterable to intentional fraud and unintentional file manipulations. Digital watermarks are created by converting copyright information into apparently random digital "noise" using an algorithm that is imperceptible to all but special watermark-reading software.

Characteristics of Digital Watermarking

In general, a digital watermarking should have the following basic features: (1) can be proved. (2) Cannot be removed. (3) Permanence.

Watermarking Process
The following diagram illustrates the steps in watermarking a movie and identifying it later.

Watermark: The master copy of the movie is watermarked while still in the content owners control. Distribute: The watermarked copies of the movie are distributed to various cinemas for broadcast. Screen: The watermarked movie is screened. If during screening, someone in the audience surreptitiously records the movie with a small camcorder, capturing a relatively faithful copy of the now doubly-watermarked movie. Upload: By way of their home computer, the consumer uploads the secretly made copy or some portion of it to a Site. Identify: The watermarks in the uploaded movie can be extracted to identify the source.

Least significant bit insertion It is a technique in which secret data is hidden in a carrier bit. The LSB of the bit is replaced with the data to be watermarked. It is also hard to detect. Masking and filtering Masking techniques hide information in such a way that the hidden message is more integral to the cover image than simply hiding data in the "noise" level. Masking adds redundancy to the hidden information. Algorithms and transformations Another technique is to hide data in mathematical functions that are in compression algorithms. The idea is to hide the data bits in the least significant coefficients.

Flag-based applications: use the watermark as a flag to enable copyright communication and enforcement. The watermark must survive normal transformations. Forensic applications: use the watermark to detect where or how a piece of content is left the authorized domain. Examples include digital cinema, media serialization for music and video on demand. Content-identification-based applications use: the watermark to enable innovative business models for content distribution while enhancing the consumers ability to experience the content. Examples include filtering, management, measurement and tracking.

Ultimately, any security technology is hack able. However, if the technology is combined with proper legal enforcement, industry standards and respects of the privacy of individuals seeking to legitimately use intellectual property. Digital watermarking will encourage content creators to trust the Internet more, which will create a richer experience for those of us who use it