What, Why & Where of Watermarks

Table of Contents

What is a watermark?

Centuries ago watermarks started as identification marks applied during the paper making process. During paper manufacturing wet paper was stamped with a seal/symbol. The marked area stayed thinner than the surrounding paper, hence the name watermark. That paper, when dry and held up to the light, showed the watermark. Later this process was used to verify the authenticity of official documents, money, stamps and generally to prevent forgery.

What is a digital watermark?

Digital watermarking is the latest form of watermarking. Similar to the physical watermarks in paper, digital watermarks are used to identify the owner/creator and authenticate digital media like images, audio and video.

How To Watermark?

For photos and video this usually means applying a visible text or a .png graphic (logo). This can be done generally in a bitmap editor like PhotoShop. Or an app specialized to apply a watermark. Plum Amazing creates watermark apps for iOS, Mac, Android and Windows, all called iWatermark. iWatermark makes it simple to watermark photos and video. iWatermark doesn’t just apply text or an image to a photo or video. 

Why Watermark?

– When Photos/Videos go viral they fly off untraceably in all directions. Often, the owner/creator info is lost or forgotten.
– Avoid the surprise of seeing your photos, artwork or videos used by others, in physical products, in ads and/or on the web.
– Avoid intellectual property (IP) conflicts, costly litigation and headaches from plagiarists who claim they didn’t know that you created it by adding visible and/or invisible watermarks.
– Because the expanded use of social media has accelerated the speed with which a photo/video can go viral.

Examples of Photo Theft?

What can be done to stop photo theft?

Adding a watermark subtly displays, no matter where your photo or video goes, that it is owned by you.

Always, watermark with name, email or url so your creations have some visible and invisible legal connection to you.
Promote and protect your company, name and website by watermarking all photos/videos you release.

All the above has created a demand for software to protect and verify photo/video ownership. That’s why we created iWatermark for Mac, Windows, Android and iOS. It’s the only watermarking tool available for all platforms.

What is a digital watermark?

In the past media was made with physical materials. Currently image, sound and video files are made up of numbers. A digital watermark consists of more numbers in different formats that are injected into the image, sound and/or video files to identify them. There are 2 kinds of watermarks used on photos, visible and invisible watermarks.

iWatermark is designed to insert digital watermarks on and into photos, images, graphics and video. These watermarks display your ownership.

What is a visible watermark?

Placing a mark on a digital photo or video that is not a part of the original photo or video is a visible watermark. This watermark is visible on the photo. These visible watermarks can loud and obvious or very subtle. A visible watermark can be text, an email address, url, graphic, logo, QR-Code, lines, numbers, tags, text on arc, text on banner, vector, and/or a border.

iWatermark produces all these visible watermarks. No other watermark program produces so many watermark types.

What is an invisible watermark?

2 types of invisible watermarks are stegomark and metadata.

Stegomarks were created by Plum Amazing to hide a word, sentence, email, url any small amount of text. The stegomark is embedded in a photo. A stegomark is numbers hidden by a particular algorithm into a photo. A stegomark can have password or not. Stegomarks are harder to remove from a photo than visible watermarks. Stegomarks can withstand repeated recompressing of jpg. Currently stegomarks are only for jpg format files. The proprietary stegomarks were created by Plum Amazing and are one part of the iWatermark app.

Metadata – for a photo is a set of data describing and providing information about rights and administration of an image. It allows information to be transported with an image file, in a way that can be understood by other software and human users. It is invisible but it can be displayed by many types of software.

How does iWatermark use these visible and invisible watermarks?

iWatermark can stamp either a visible watermark on one photo or video. Or it simultaneously embed multiple visible and invisible watermarks together simultaneously on a photo or video . This unique ability, for example, allows iWatermark to add a visible logo and text showing the date as a visible watermark to a photo. Or iWatermark can batch process 1000 photos with multiple watermarks like a visible logo with

What are iWatermark tags?

Each tag is a variable for some particular metadata info that is read from each photo and then applied as a visible watermark to that photo. Another unique feature of iWatermark.

There are 3 main categories of metadata:

Descriptive – information about the visual content. This may include headline, caption, keywords. Further persons, locations, companies, artwork or products shown in the image . This can be done using free text or codes from a controlled vocabulary or other identifiers.
Rights – identification of the creator, copyright information, credits and underlying rights in the visual content including model and property rights. Further rights usage terms and other data for licensing the use of the image.
Administrative – creation date and location, instructions for the users, job identifiers, and other details.

Any of these can be used as a tag in a text watermark that is then applied to a photo or photos.

Please explain briefly the terminology of watermarking?

Digital Watermarking – the process of embedding information onto or into a media file which may be used to verify its authenticity or the identity of its owners.
Watermark – a visible and/or invisible digital watermark that identifies the owner of a particular piece of digital media.
Visible digital watermark – info visible on a photo. Typically, the information is text or a logo, which identifies the owner of the photo. That info is merged into the image info but still visible.
Invisible digital watermark – info embedded within the image data of the photo but is designed to be imperceptible to human vision so it is hidden info. Steganography uses the same technique but for a different purpose.
Metadata – is the descriptive information embedded inside any type of file. All the items below EXIF, XMP, and IPTC are metadata that is added to a photo. Metadata does not change the actual image data but piggybacks on the file. Facebook, Flickr and other online social platforms remove all this metadata (EXIF, XMP and IPTC).
EXIF – Exif – Exchangeable image file format (Exif) A type of metadata that almost all digital cameras store within photos. EXIF stores fixed info like date & time taken, camera settings, thumbnail, descriptions, GPS, and copyright. This info is not meant to be changed but it can optionally be removed from photos. The specification uses the existing JPEG, TIFF Rev. 6.0, and RIFF WAV file formats, with the addition of specific metadata tags. It is not supported in JPEG 2000, PNG, or GIF.
IPTC – is a file structure and set of metadata attributes that can be applied to text, images, and other media types. It was developed by the International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC) to expedite the international exchange of news among newspapers and news agencies.
XMP – Extensible Metadata Platform (XMP) is a specific type of extensible markup language used to store metadata in digital photos. XMP has subsumed IPTC. XMP was introduced by Adobe in 2001. Adobe, IPTC, and IDEAlliance collaborated to introduce in 2004 the IPTC Core Schema for XMP, which transfers metadata values from IPTC headers to the more modern and flexible XMP.
Tag– is one piece of metadata. Each item within EXIF, IPTC, and XMP is a tag.

I use Lightroom (or Photoshop). Why should I use iWatermark?

iWatermark provides watermarking tools not available in Lightroom. For example, a text watermark in Lightroom is one fixed size in pixels so that watermark will vary depending on the resolution of the photos being watermarked. Whereas iWatermark has text watermarks that optionally scale proportionally depending on resolution or portrait/lanscape. Lightroom uses pixels to determine watermark location whereas iWatermark position the watermark proportionally based again on esolution or portrait/lanscape. That means if you watermark a batch of photos of different resolutions and/or landscape or portrait orientations that iWatermark can have a watermark that maintains the same look/identitiy on all these kinds of photos. iWatermark also has options not to scale. These are 2 big differences.

Can the metadata in a photo be used to watermark a photo?

Yes! This is called iWatermark Tags. iWatermark Tags can make the invisible metadata into a visible watermark. For example there is metadata that all cameras insert into the photo for name of camera, type of lens, date & time of photo, location (via GPS) and many others. In a text watermark you select the tags for any of these, like ‘name of camera’, then that text watermark makes that visible where you want on a photo, in the size, color, font, etc. that you want. Now, lets say you received 2356 entries for a photo contest. You need to put the name of the camera and date & time of the photo on each one. Then using iWatermark you automatically batch all 2356 photos all at one time, each photo would show the correct camera name and time & date, because iWatermark reads and uses the right metadata for each watermark, and places it on that photo at the bottom right in your favorite font and font size. All without you having to lift a finger or try and figure all that out. A HUGE time saver.

Can iWatermark write metadata to a photo?

iWatermark can read and write metadata in the various special ways that inserts or modifies metadata in a photo. For example if you work at Reuters or the New York Times Newspaper as a photographer you probably need to add metadata to your photos. They might ask you to add your name, copyright, location, etc. All these can be added by using an iWatermark metadata watermark. Once you make a iWatermark metadata watermark then, in future, with a click you can select it and apply it to 1 or 221,675 photos in one shot. It’s very handy to make up all the metadata watermarks you need so they are on hand and you can apply them as needed. No other app watermarks like this. iWatermark is unique and the only app that creates sets of metadata and can apply them automatically to photos as needed.

Why should I watermark the photos I put on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, etc.

Excellent question! Because all those services remove your metadata and at that point there is no longer any info tying that photo to you. People can just drag your picture to their desktop and share to others till there is no connection to you and no info in the file that says you created or own it. In this case a visible watermark makes sure that everyone is clear on the fact that the photo is your IP (intellectual property). You never know when a photo you took will go viral. Tap here for some examples of theft of photos that have gone viral.

Is it Photo Piracy or Photo Theft?

Photo Piracy is usually regarded as people on social media who grabbed your photo and used it without permission but for non-commerical use.

Photo Theft is where a company uses your photo for commercial purposes. In this case you have some justification to sue them as the creator of the photo or video.

Is it possible to sue a photo thief?

Yes, copyright is a property right. Under the Federal Copyright Act of 1976, photographs are protected by copyright from the moment you snap your photo, they are protected by law. You don’t even have to register them or even watermark them as copyrighted; they belong to you.

If some company or some person downloads your photos and displays them publicly. They are using them for their own purpose. Further if they distribute them to others, or creating derivative works from them it violates your copyright if it’s done without contacting you and getting your permission.

When your photo or video is stolen then as a photographer you can lose income and recognition. It’s also possible that your reputation can suffer when it’s not clear who stole what. The judge takes all these things in consider when rendering a verdict.

Summary, the benefits of watermarking.

Watermarking your photos can provide a number of benefits and can help protect your images from being used without your permission. Here are a few reasons why you should consider watermarking your photos:

  1. Protect your copyright: A watermark can serve as a visual representation of your copyright on an image. It can help deter others from using your images without your permission and can serve as evidence of your ownership if someone does use your image without permission.
  2. Credit for your work: A watermark can also serve as a way to credit yourself for your work. If someone shares your image on social media or a website, a watermark can ensure that you are credited as the creator of the image.
  3. Deter misuse: Watermarking your photos can help deter others from using your images in inappropriate or offensive ways. For example, if you are a photographer, you may not want your images to be used in a way that is not in line with your values or brand.
  4. Protect against image theft: Unfortunately, image theft is a common problem on the internet. Watermarking your photos can make it more difficult for someone to steal your images and pass them off as their own.

Overall, watermarking your photos can provide a number of benefits and can help protect your images from being used without your permission. Whether you are a professional photographer or a hobbyist, watermarking your photos is a simple and effective way to protect your work and ensure that you are credited for your creations.

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Plum Amazing, LLC