Digital watermarking

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The practice of digital watermarking, first defined by Andrew Tirkel and Charles Osborne in 1992, involves the embedding of concealed data within a digital signal, primarily for authentication or safeguarding purposes. This technique can trace its origins back to the paper makers of 13th-century Italy who used it for identification. In our digital era, digital watermarking has found uses in areas such as copyright safeguarding, fraud identification, broadcast surveillance, and more. Watermarks differ based on their visibility and resilience. The digital watermarking procedure encompasses phases of embedding, attacking, and detecting. While it offers advantages like protection of intellectual property[1] and boosting brand awareness, it also presents challenges including robustness, security, and computational intricacy. The process of selecting the most suitable watermarking algorithm[2] involves a careful consideration of these aspects.

Terms definitions
1. intellectual property. Intellectual property, a term that encompasses the original products of human intellect, includes inventions, literary and artistic pieces, designs, symbols, brand names, and commercial images. These non-physical assets, which inherently possess value, are legally safeguarded through the application of patents, copyrights, and trademarks. The inception of the intellectual property concept can be traced back to the 15th century, with the Venetian Patent Statute of 1474 marking the first patent system in codified form. The principle behind this is to incentivize innovation and advancement by allowing creators to regulate and financially benefit from their inventions. This encourages creativity, equitable commerce, and economic expansion. Nonetheless, it's crucial for intellectual property laws to strike a balance between these rights and the broader societal interest, ensuring that knowledge and technologies are readily available to all. Violations of intellectual property rights, such as infringement of patents, copyrights, and trademarks, along with theft of trade secrets, can lead to serious repercussions.
2. algorithm. A set of instructions or rules that are clearly defined and offer a solution to a specific problem or task is known as an algorithm. With roots tracing back to ancient civilizations, algorithms have undergone centuries of evolution and today play a pivotal role in contemporary computing. Techniques such as divide-and-conquer are utilized in their creation and their efficiency is assessed via metrics such as big O notation. Algorithms can be depicted in multiple ways, including pseudocode, flowcharts, or programming languages. To execute them, they are translated into a language comprehensible to computers, with the execution speed being influenced by the utilized instruction set. Depending on their design or implementation paradigm, algorithms can be categorized differently, and their level of efficiency can greatly affect processing time. In fields like computer science and artificial intelligence, the comprehension and effective application of algorithms is vital.

A digital watermark is a kind of marker covertly embedded in a noise-tolerant signal such as audio, video or image data. It is typically used to identify ownership of the copyright of such signal. "Watermarking" is the process of hiding digital information in a carrier signal; the hidden information should, but does not need to, contain a relation to the carrier signal. Digital watermarks may be used to verify the authenticity or integrity of the carrier signal or to show the identity of its owners. It is prominently used for tracing copyright infringements and for banknote authentication.

Like traditional physical watermarks, digital watermarks are often only perceptible under certain conditions, e.g. after using some algorithm. If a digital watermark distorts the carrier signal in a way that it becomes easily perceivable, it may be considered less effective depending on its purpose. Traditional watermarks may be applied to visible media (like images or video), whereas in digital watermarking, the signal may be audio, pictures, video, texts or 3D models. A signal may carry several different watermarks at the same time. Unlike metadata that is added to the carrier signal, a digital watermark does not change the size of the carrier signal.

The needed properties of a digital watermark depend on the use case in which it is applied. For marking media files with copyright information, a digital watermark has to be rather robust against modifications that can be applied to the carrier signal. Instead, if integrity has to be ensured, a fragile watermark would be applied.

Both steganography and digital watermarking employ steganographic techniques to embed data covertly in noisy signals. While steganography aims for imperceptibility to human senses, digital watermarking tries to control the robustness as top priority.

Since a digital copy of data is the same as the original, digital watermarking is a passive protection tool. It just marks data, but does not degrade it or control access to the data.

One application of digital watermarking is source tracking. A watermark is embedded into a digital signal at each point of distribution. If a copy of the work is found later, then the watermark may be retrieved from the copy and the source of the distribution is known. This technique reportedly has been used to detect the source of illegally copied movies.

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