Researchers at Google have created an algorithm that can erase watermarks from photos automatically, warning that pictures are vulnerable copyright violations even with superimposed logos used to protect them. “As often done with vulnerabilities discovered in operating systems, applications or protocols, we want to disclose this vulnerability and propose solutions in order to help the photography and stock image communities adapt and better protect its copyrighted content and creations,” Google said in a blog post.
Manually, the task of removing a watermark from an image is tedious, and even with state-of-the-art editing tools it may take a Photoshop expert several minutes to remove a watermark from one image, researchers said. However, a fact that has been overlooked so far is that watermarks are typically added in a consistent manner to many images, they said. Introducing random geometric perturbations to the watermark – warping it when embedding it in each image – can counter this vulnerability, researchers said.