Google researchers have created an algorithm that makes watermarks disappear from a photo entirely. They did not put the program online because they wanted to give agencies a lot more tips on how to make visible watermarks safer. Anyone who has ever looked for stock photos, knows this. This annoying visible watermark on every second picture. Now, of course, you can unpack your Photoshop skills and let the annoying font disappear from the photo – but that costs a lot of time and patience. Or you can try it, like the Google researchers and crack the protection. Usually, takes more time, but could cost a lot less time afterward.
At a conference on image recognition in Hawaii, the researchers Tali Dekel, Michael Rubinstein, Ce Liu and William T. Freeman told what they had done to remove watermarks. According to them, the algorithm is supposed to eliminate these with quite a high accuracy. And it does not matter which visible watermark was placed over the image. Because from their study, which can also be viewed here as a nonspecific PDF, it can be seen that behind watermarks usually also a higher art lies.
Say, they are so carefully and regularly transferred to a photo that the algorithm can recognize the individual layers of the watermark and gradually remove it. This is how the original image is to be restored. The PDF explains that this process works almost perfectly. Thus the watermarks do not always have the same position, transparency or color. The algorithm itches it little.
The researchers have tested this with a few hundred images of websites such as Can-Stock, 123RF, Fotolia, or Adobe Stock. Actually, the removal of watermarks against copyright, because it is finally there. Non-licensed uses are thus to be prevented.
But the researchers have no evil with their algorithm in mind. They even give tips on how agencies can protect their images better in the future. Easily geometric changes in the watermark logos were the most successful method. The algorithm had already in the change of pixel problems to remove the watermark well. Larger changes make the algorithm even more difficult.