Digimarc announces Digimarc Validate to safeguard images from AI encroachment

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Digimarc Corp., the pioneer in digital watermarking, announced Digimarc Validate has expanded its identification and protection capabilities to the digital world. The company claims Digimarc Validate “is the industry’s first offering to empower content owners and creators with the ability to convey copyright ownership of images and digital media assets. The combination of Digimarc’s SAFE digital watermarks and detection software enables this new offering to form the foundation of a trusted and scalable digital asset ecosystem, critical in an era of generative artificial intelligence (GenAI).”

“Digimarc is well-known for protecting valuable assets, guarding the world’s currency, medicine, food, and more,” said Riley McCormack, president and CO, Digimarc . “We are excited to extend this powerful protection to the digital world today because the time for digital content owners to act is now. GenAI has changed the rules, and once new digital assets are distributed or published for the first time, the ability to protect those valuable assets is forever gone.”

Much of the digital content being used to train GenAI models is copyrighted, it’s just not digitally identified as such. Digimarc Validate applies digital watermarks to original digital content before distribution – analogous to adding a machine-readable “©” to those images – providing a clear signal of content ownership and authenticity. Under section 1202(b) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the rights of owners of watermarked assets are protected.

“Digimarc Validate enables copyright owners to avail themselves of the benefits of watermarking, which include support of a potential DMCA Section 1202(b) claim,” said John Tehranian, Founding Partner, One LLP. “This DMCA claim provides distinct remedies from copyright infringement without requiring a registration and offers the potential to recover statutory damages and attorney’s fees prior to the occurrence of an actual infringement, while potentially blunting a fair use defense.”

Anchored by its powerful and proven covert digital watermarking technology, Digimarc Validate provides digital content owners with an affordable and self-serve way to add a multi-layered and machine-readable identifier to digital assets. This identifier can communicate other essential digital asset attributes in addition to ownership and copyright, including authenticity, provenance, and more.

“The risk content owners face from failing to add an identifier to their digital assets before distribution or publication goes beyond ‘just’ misuse and theft,” said Digimarc Chief Product Officer, Ken Sickles. “Digimarc is working with industry stakeholders who understand Digimarc Validate will be foundational to an ecosystem of trust, authenticity, and security in the online world. In the future your digital assets will make ecommerce transactions more trustworthy, email more secure, and social media a safer place, but just like with copyright protection, the ability to capture these benefits is gone once the assets have been distributed or published.”

By reading the instructions conveyed by a SAFE digital watermark, GenAI model training powered by SAFE detection software and services makes it easy for GenAI companies to identify content that is owned by others prior to ingestion. This allows GenAI companies to avoid the certainty of costly legal battles over the unauthorized use of copyrighted material today, and avoid exposure to financial damages, injunctions, and forced re-training of models in the future, according to Digimarc. SAFE detection software and services also provide additional benefits to GenAI companies, such as the avoidance of model collapse and the realization of efficiencies in input labeling and other model-training steps.