Proof of Ownership

This use case discusses a news agency NA, which publishes a news portal on the Internet. A competitor news agency NB downloads the photos accompanying the news articles from the web portal of NA and uses them in the editions of its own online newspaper. NA would like to prove that it is the legal owner of the photos and expose the actions of NB as copyright violations. As any digital data related to photos can be easily falsified, NA’s success is uncertain.

Traditional cryptographic DRM approaches cannot prevent the misappropriation of intellectual property or help proving the ownership of the photos if they have been made publicly available on the Internet. Digital watermarking, on the other hand, can encode information about the real author into the photos. News agency NA can subscribe to such a watermarking service provided by the company DiWa specialized in digital watermarking. It has to make a small modification to the software of its web server, so that any photos being uploads to the server are automatically sent to DiWa for watermarking before being published on the web site.

Due to the advantages of flexibility, self-sufficiency and reliability discussed in the Technological Advantages section, the hidden information will be very probably present in the copies of the photos which have been published in the online newspaper of new agency NB. The transparency advantage makes it probable that NB does not even suspect the existence of the hidden watermark. When the issue of copyright infringement is brought up, DiWa can confirm that news agency NA is the real copyright holder by means of the embedded watermark.

The term watermark (in the context of digital watermarking) refers to any hidden information in a digital medium which pertains to this medium and identifies its owner, buyer, proves its integrity, etc.