An algorithm that automatically removes watermarks on stock photos

Google researchers became a stock photo distributor’s nightmare.

Researchers from Google managed to develop an algorithm that in a matter of seconds entirely removes watermarks from images. The worsts might be that the process is fully automated.

Professional photographers usually add watermarks on their images to protect their copyrights, and in doing so preventing people from using them illegally without their consent.

Google’s researchers were able to find an obvious error in the way in which photographers apply these watermarks. In doing so they were able to exploit this flaw and implement an algorithm that removes the visibility of watermarks entirely.

The actual method, which is documented in more detail in a paper titled “On the Effectiveness of Visible Watermarks”, at its core takes advantage of the fact that watermarks, on a design level, are applied to photo’s exactly the same way and in doing so essentially reverse engineer this process.

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